With COVID-19 patients increasing at area hospitals, Pasadena and the rest of Southern California were on the verge of a sweeping state-mandated stay-at-home order Friday that could take effect within days if intensive-care units become overwhelmed.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans for the “regional stay-at-home order” on Thursday, saying it will be imposed in areas running low on ICU beds.
The order limits a variety of activities for at least 21 days and restrictions will likely begin as early as this coming weekend, according Pasadena officials.
The order will force the closure of some businesses, while again barring gatherings of people from multiple households.
Unlike health orders issued by Los Angeles County, Pasadena would be forced to comply with the state order. The Governor’s Order supersedes the city’s authority and is based on the need for regional and statewide control to address this pandemic
Restrictions specified by the Governor’s new order will go into effect within 48 hours in regions with less than 15% ICU bed availability.
When triggered, the Governor’s stay-at-home order will:
- Place a 20% capacity limitation on all retail establishments.
- Require closings of personal services businesses, including hair and nail salons, and all bars.
- Require restaurants to return to take out and delivery services, only.
- All gatherings of more than one household are prohibited, sector operations will be closed except for critical infrastructure and retail, and face coverings and physical distancing will be required in all other operations.
- Some outdoor activities will still be permitted.
- Schools that have been granted waivers will be allowed to continue to operate, as well as child care facilities.
City officials said Pasadena’s official website will be posting links to the state websites for specific guidance once the written order and guideline are released
“It is devastating to see the rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and our Public Health Department is in constant contact with Huntington Hospital and other health care facilities to monitor the situation,” said City Manager Steve Mermell.
“We need to do our part to avert the projected devastating scenario. We must refrain from gathering with people from outside our household whenever possible. We need to work together to protect our family, friends, neighbors, and businesses,” Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena Public Health Officer, said in a statement. “We will provide specific guidance on shut downtimes and dates as soon as they are established by the state.”
Mermell also said that “given the gravity of the situation, an approach of this magnitude appears necessary.”
“We are sorry for the impact of the state health order on our retail businesses, our personal care service providers, on our restaurants who can no longer undertake outdoor dining, and on all of us,” Mermell said.
Unlike the state’s four-tiered coronavirus monitoring system, which grades every county individually, the new stay-at-home order will apply more broadly to five “regions” in the state: Southern California, the Bay Area, the greater Sacramento area, Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley.
“The five regions that we have highlighted, most of these, four out of the five, we anticipate as early as the next day or two … that the greater Sacramento, Northern California regions, as well as San Joaquin Valley and Southern California region will have reached that 15% or less ICU capacity,”
Newsom said. “The Bay Area may have a few extra days — our current projections suggest mid-, maybe late-December.”
Newsom stressed that ICU admissions due to COVID-19 have spiked by 67% in recent weeks, in conjunction with a statewide surge in cases that has also seen a disturbing rise in fatalities.
The state reported just 14 deaths on Nov. 2, but now has had back-to-back days of 113 deaths, with nearly 1,000 fatalities in last four days.
“The bottom line is, if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” he said. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see the death rate climb, more lives lost.”
Newsom said the order is “fundamentally predicated on the need to stop gathering with people outside of your household, to do what you can to keep most of your activities outside and, of course, always … wear face coverings, wear a mask.”
Newsom also noted that the state still has a travel advisory in place recommending against non-essential travel and urging people to quarantine when they return to the state. When the regional stay-at-home order is triggered, it will strongly urge residents to cancel any non-essential travel.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We are a few months away from truly seeing real progress with the vaccine. … We do not anticipate having to do this once again. But we all really need to step up. We need to meet this moment head-on and we need to do everything we can to stem the tide, bend the curve and give us the time necessary by bending that curve to get those vaccines in the hands of all Californians all across the state.”