California set a new record for the number of new COVID cases on Saturday: 30,075. That’s up 2.3 percent from Friday’s total. Numbers for Sunday haven’t been released yet.
Gov. Newsom rolled out a new stay-at-home order last week, dividing the state into five regions and mandating that each region go into lockdown once ICU bed capacity in that region dipped below 15 percent. That threshold has already been hit in Southern California and in the Central Valley.
The stay-at-home order, will be in place for at least three weeks and prohibits gatherings of people from different households. Regions will be eligible to exit from the order on Dec. 28 if ICU capacity projections for the following month are above or equal to 15%…
The Southland’s intensive care unit capacity dropped below the 15% threshold on Friday, to 13.1%. That number fell even further on Saturday, to 12.5%, according to the California Department of Public Health. The ICU capacity Sunday for the region was 10.3%.
In addition, several counties in the Bay Area have already put themselves under a stay-at-home order even though the region they are part of hasn’t hit the 15% threshold.
Health officials for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara as well as the City of Berkeley made the joint announcement that they would implement the state’s stay-at-home order this weekend, and would not wait until their intensive care units neared capacity, as the state had laid out in its directive on Thursday.
“The virus is spreading rapidly throughout the city like never before,” Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of public health, said at a news briefing Friday afternoon. “We need to move fast, keeping ahead of this virus as much as possible.”
At the current rate of hospitalizations, San Francisco will run out of hospital beds the day after Christmas, Dr. Colfax said.
Running out of ICU beds is a real concern but shutting down counties involves a significant cost for small businesses in the area. Some of those business owners are venting about it:
“I’m most frustrated by the level of investment and commitment my teams and I have made to safety, sanitation, distancing and the like, only to be rewarded by this shutdown,” Don Berger, the owner of Sport Clips Barbershops’ three locations in the East Bay, wrote in an email. “We’ve worked diligently to install new protocols and spent thousands of dollars on supplies and training. We’ve not ONE known virus outbreak in our business, yet, we must close.”
Restaurant owners are asking for evidence that outdoor dining has contributed to the outbreak and so far they aren’t getting it:
On two separate occasions, reporters asked the governor and California Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly to provide hard data showing activities like outdoor dining and hair salons are increasing the spread of the coronavirus and would not just encourage more at-home gatherings. Neither directly answered the question, and instead offered responses along the lines of, “We want to diminish the amount of mixing.”…
“One of the most frustrating parts is you listen to any state or county press conference where they present reams and reams of data, and hear about how they’re data driven, how many people tested positive, how many people are in the hospital, and that they’re contact tracing,” said Julian Skinner, owner of The Style Bar, a hair salon in Greenbrae. “But when you ask why some sectors are closed and others open, we get general answers back and not data answers.”
Garth Gilmour, owner of a security and wireless installation business said, “We have a governor, a state and local government that is doing everything possible to put us out of business.” Danielle Rabkin who owns a crossfit gym had harsh works for San Francisco’s Health Department: “SFDPH is behaving criminally, this IS SO WRONG. They are leveling this city.”
The problem here is that the state can monitor things like ICU bed availability by region but it’s not able to tell which specific businesses are contributing to the surge. So what we get are these top-down orders that punish everyone even though some of the people taking a hit aren’t part of the problem. What’s needed is a much more detailed way to examine the data.
On that front, this morning Gov. Newsom announced an app which people can download if they want to be notified when they’ve crossed paths with someone who tested positive for the virus:
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday talked about a new COVID-19 exposure app that’s being rolled out. The California COVID Notify Program was tested out at University of California campuses earlier this fall and will be available statewide on Thursday…
Sixteen other states, plus Guam and Washington, D.C., have already made available the system that was co-created by Apple and Google, though most residents of those places aren’t using it.
The app was co-created by Apple and Google. Google has a page describing how this works. This video summarizes how the app works to create a kind of opt in contract tracing. As described it seems like a good idea that might help by notifying people who could have been exposed in the last two weeks. Maybe if there was wider usage of something like this, we wouldn’t need stay-at-home mandates and curfews.