San Francisco issues quarantine for travelers as California announces 50,000 new cases in a single day

Yesterday the counties that make up the Bay Area region of California went into a state-mandated lockdown as the region’s ICU bed capacity dipped below the 15% threshold. Today San Francisco took things to a new level by announcing a mandatory 10-day quarantine for all travelers entering the city, including people who live there:

The quarantine applies to both visitors and residents, city Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said in a Thursday press briefing.

“COVID-19 cases are surging in San Francisco and across the country. Hospitals in the Bay Area are close to being overwhelmed,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “We must do whatever we can to contain the virus and stop its circulation in our community. Now is not the time to travel and risk being exposed or exposing others. We need to do the right thing to protect ourselves, our neighbors and our loved ones and make sure that we can celebrate together when this is over.”

The order takes effect tonight, one minute after midnight but does not apply to people who began their travel before the order took effect. So people who’ve already left town by today will be exempt when the return. San Francisco isn’t the first county to issue such an order. At the end of last month, Santa Clara County issued a similar quarantine for anyone entering the county from more than 150 miles away.

While it’s tempting to make a quip about finally quarantining San Francisco from the rest of the country, the fact is that things are genuinely bad in California right now with more than 50,000 new cases announced both today and yesterday. As the Washington Post points out, if California were a country, it would have one of the highest rates of infection in the world:

California has set nationwide records for new cases again and again in the past week — most recently on Thursday, when it posted more than 50,000 infections, nearly 100,000 in 48 hours. If California were a country, it would be among the world leaders in new coronavirus cases, ahead of India, Germany and Britain. And the state’s test positivity rate continues to climb, meaning the virus is spreading faster. The rate is now 11.5 percent, more than twice what experts consider high risk.

California is also setting new death records. On Thursday, the state reported 379 new fatalities, topping the previous mark of 293, set only the day prior.

The situation is currently worst in southern California which has been under a state-mandate lockdown since last Monday. That lockdown was triggered by the region’s ICU bed capacity dropping below 15 percent. Today the unused ICU bed capacity in the region dropped to zero percent:

Southern California’s intensive-care unit bed capacity fell to 0% on Thursday, Dec. 17, an alarming nadir for the region’s healthcare system — though one that had seem like an inevitability for more than a week as the worsening coronavirus surge sapped available ICU beds daily.

Thursday’s decline from 0.5% the day before was the 10th consecutive day available ICU bed capacity dropped.

LA County, with a population of 10 million, has been especially hard hit. Health Services Director Christina Ghaly said “Our hospitals are under siege, and our model shows no end in sight.” She added, “The worst is still before us.”

Here’s a local news report from CBS Los Angeles yesterday that says some patients are already being left in ambulances because there is no place to put them: