With what he called “a surge on top of a surge on top of – arguably – another surge,” California Governor Gavin Newsom announced in a press conference today that although the state’s current Stay at Home order for Southern California was originally set to expire on December 29, it will likely be extended in an announcement from state health officials tomorrow. The order went into effect three weeks ago, when ICU availability in the region dipped below 10%…and as of today, Newsom said, that number is just about 0%. He said state officials will analyze the most recent data later today, and will make a new announcement tomorrow based on projections for the next four weeks. “It is clear and understandable,” he said, that given the current situation, “those stay at home orders will be extended.”
According to Newsom, LA County’s new cases are still high – between 12,000 and 15,000 per week for the last few weeks – which is affecting not just those who are sick, but also straining the heath care system for everyone. In fact, said Newsom, 96% of hospitals in Southern California were on “diversion” status for much of the day on Saturday, meaning they had to direct incoming ambulances to other facilites.
But while the Stay at Home order will likely be extended, Newsom also said at least some relief is coming. First, he said, California is sending a state-level team to LA County, to assist county officials with things like hospital “load levelling” – figuring out where to send patients to spread out the burden and help keep individual hosptials from being overloaded.
Newsom also noted that the new federal stimulus bill, passed by President Trump yesterday, contains more financial relief, including $600 payments for individuals, more rent assistance, and more Paycheck Protection funds for small businesses, among other measures.
And, of course, vaccine rollouts have begun, with front line health care workers the first group receiving them. Newsom reported that more than 260,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the state as of December 26…and that by the end of this week, the state will have received 1.76 million doses for further distribution.
Newsom said state officials are now beginning to formalize plans for the more groups to be vaccinated, with the elderly next in line. Since October 1, he reported, individuals 61 and over account for 65% of COVID-19 ICU admissions and 80% of COVID-19-related deaths. So at the moment, he said, plans are for Tier 1 of the Phase 1B vaccination rollout to include persons 75 years and older, along with education, child care, emergency services, food, and agriculture workers…and Tier Two likely to include those over age 65 who also have a disability or underlying health issue, along with several more categories of essential workers, incarcerated individuals and the unhoused/homeless.
And next, Phase 1C will likely include those ages 16-64 with underlying medical conditions, and workers in several more business sectors.
Meanwhile, as the following graphs show, our local case counts are continuing to surge as well, with many of our local neighborhoods coming close to doubling the number of cases in the first nine months of the pandemic, in just the last four weeks.
About Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.
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