Berkeley extends emergency stay-at-home order amid rising COVID-19 cases

Photo of the city of Berkeley/surrounding area
Lisi Ludwig/File
In response to limited capacities of intensive care units, or ICUs, and surging COVID-19 cases, the city of Berkeley has extended its emergency stay-at-home order. According to a city press release, state capacity of ICUs is 4.1% as of press time.

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Amid surging COVID-19 cases and intensive care units, or ICUs, being filled across the region, Berkeley’s emergency stay-at-home order has been extended through Jan. 7, at the earliest.

Berkeley health officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez issued the order Dec. 5, mandating residents to leave their homes solely for essential services, according to a city press release. The regional stay-at-home order, which entails closing all sectors, excluding essential operations and retail, in state regions with less than 15% ICU beds available, was triggered in the Bay Area Thursday.

Less than 13% of ICU beds are available in the Bay Area, and more 98% of Californians are affected by the state order as of press time, according to the press release. The order will last three weeks and will be lifted once a region’s projected ICU capacity meets at least 15%, reviewed weekly by the state. 

COVID-19 is posing its most dangerous threat yet in this pandemic,” the press release states. “Immediate, drastic action is needed to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.”

Falling ICU capacity marks one of the final impacts of COVID-19, with state capacity at 4.1% as of press time, according to the press release. Although many infected people have no symptoms, they comprise 50% of all COVID-19 infections nationwide.

All gatherings with people from other households are prohibited, exempting certain cases for schools, child care and outdoor religious ceremonies, the press release adds.

Business sectors that remain open must enforce social distancing and mask-wearing among all customers, with retail stores able to operate at 20% indoor capacity and grocery stores at 35%, according to the press release.

Outdoor recreational facilities, excluding picnic areas, will remain open for people to enjoy with members from their household, according to the press release.

“COVID-19 threatens us now like never before,” Hernandez said in the press release. “Collective action combined with these emergency measures have the potential to blunt this surge and allow a quicker recovery and re-opening of activities.”

Check back for updates.

Maxine Mouly is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @moulymaxine.