California officials extend Bay Area stay-at-home order indefinitely

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In Berkeley alone, there have been a thousand cases of COVID-19 in the past two months, as well as six deaths in the past two weeks, according to a city of Berkeley press release. Given a reduction in intensive care unit, or ICU, capacity, regional stay-at-home orders will not be lifted by the state until a four-week projection of ICU capacity is at least 15% in all Bay Area counties.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom provided updates on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic Monday, announcing that the Bay Area intensive care unit, or ICU, capacity has dropped to 0.7%.

With the reduction in ICU capacity, Newsom noted that the region’s stay-at-home order will continue indefinitely until ICU capacity increases. This follows the city of Berkeley’s update in a press release Friday, which stated that the region was at 3% ICU capacity.

“COVID-19 cases continue to rapidly escalate in Berkeley and throughout the region, straining hospitals and keeping state ‘stay home’ restrictions in place until intensive care units are freed up,” the press release states.

In the past two months, there have been a thousand cases, according to the press release. These new cases equal the tally of the previous eight months.

On Jan. 5, Berkeley reported 68 cases, its highest single-day tally of the COVID-19 pandemic, the press released added. The city also reported six deaths in the last two weeks.

Restaurants remain limited to takeout and delivery services, while hair salons and personal care services will continue to be closed. The press release additionally encouraged the public to telecommute if they are able to.

“The virus silently travels with the movements of people,” said Berkeley health officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez in the press release. “The quicker we act, the faster we recover as a community and region.”

Regional stay-at-home orders will be lifted by the state when a four-week projection of ICU capacity is at least 15% in all Bay Area counties, according to the press release. ICU capacity projections are calculated by recent data, including estimated regional ICU capacity availability, the measure of community transmission, regional case rates and the proportion of ICU cases being admitted.

The press release noted the surge of cases does not represent the complete impact of holiday activities, as it can take about two weeks for the virus to be detected by a test or to notice symptoms after exposure. Following this, hospitalizations typically occur in the next two to three weeks, the press release added.

“With more cases than ever, the need to take precautions is more urgent,” Hernandez said in the press release. “Doing so not only protects you and your loved ones, but it lessens the spread that requires these local restrictions.”

Thao Nguyen is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.