Some Orange County businesses could soon be ordered shut down, and residents urged to stay home as much as possible, as the coronavirus second wave is stretching hospitals thin because of skyrocketing daily case increases.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is slated to hold a noon news conference on the state’s response to the second wave.
On Monday, he hinted at a potential shutdown order, which could be regional.
“A potential for a stay at home order for those regions in Purple, because of hospitalizations and ICUs … we’re assessing this in real time in the next day or two,” Newsom said.
High-level county sources indicated Thursday morning that some sort of shutdown order is expected.
OC and all of Southern California counties are in the Purple Tier, the most restrictive tier, on the state’s reopening system because of rising case rates. That means no indoor operations restaurants, gyms, places of worship and movie theaters, while further limiting indoor operations at retailers.
Orange County saw a roughly 230% increase in hospitalizations in November.
When the month began, 183 people were hospitalized.
When November ended, 605 people were hospitalized — a threefold increase.
And OC’s been averaging about 1,000 new cases for the last week. State public health officials estimate 12 to 13% of new cases end up in hospitals two to three weeks down the road.
As of Wednesday, 689 people were hospitalized, including 171 in intensive care units. The Health Care Agency also reported there’s 19% of ICU beds left.
At the peak of the first wave in July, 722 people were hospitalized. Weeks of gradual increases spread over May and June led to the peak.
Mission Hospital’s Dr. Jim Keany, who treats patients in the intensive care unit, said some critical care services, like postoperative care for heart surgery patients, are already being impacted.
“For critical care it puts a challenge on we need a clean critical care area then we need a COVID critical care area. We still have patients who don’t have covid who still need specialized services,” Keany said.” COVID is a strain across the whole system to provide that level of care.”
The curfew calls for residents to restrict nonessential movements from 10 p.m to 5 a.m. Nonessential businesses are also supposed to be closed during that time, although restaurant deliveries and take-out are available, along with grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.
It’s unclear if the curfew has had any effect on slowing the spread as state public health officials haven’t released any studies or data on it.
It’s also unclear how enforcement of the new stay home order is going to work.
OC Sheriff Don Barnes and oc public health officials took a light-handed approach to enforcement during the last stay home order.
Barnes has publicly said he won’t enforce the statewide mask mandate or the curfew and instead directed his deputies to take an “education-first” approach.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio