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Southern California, San Joaquin Valley to enter stay-at-home orders starting Sunday

Southern California, San Joaquin Valley to enter stay-at-home orders starting Sunday
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Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will enter stay-at-home orders starting Sunday after the areas' hospital intensive care unit (ICU) capacities fell below a state-set threshold.

The California Department of Public Health announced Saturday that the two regions will fall under the state’s regional stay-at-home order at 11:59 p.m. local time Sunday after their ICU capacities both fell below 15 percent.

Southern California’s ICU capacity sits at 12.5 percent, and the San Joaquin Valley’s capacity is currently at 8.6 percent, the state said.

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The California regions will be forced to shutter personal service businesses including bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries, hair salons and barbershops. Overnight, short-term stays at campgrounds will not be allowed, and restaurants will only be allowed to have takeout service.

Retail businesses will be limited to 20 percent of their indoor capacity.

Most outdoor activities, such as hiking and going to the beach, will be unaffected, and places like schools and non-urgent medical and dental care can remain open with appropriate infectious disease preventative measures.

Local governments do have the flexibility to impose more stringent orders, but less restrictive local policies would be superseded by the state’s stay-at-home order. 

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia Democrats weigh their recall options California opens vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and up California races to get ahead of another bad fire season MORE (D) first implemented the ICU capacity rules Thursday to try to blunt the alarming spread of the coronavirus, saying it was "fundamentally predicated on the need to stop gathering with people outside your household." 

"We're encouraging people, we're really imploring people not to have those gatherings," Newsom said during a press conference Thursday.

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The new orders come as the state — like much of the rest of the country — continues to see a worrisome surge in cases.

California has had over 1.3 million coronavirus cases and nearly 20,000 fatalities. Over 2,100 patients are in the ICU. 

“Today we had 22,000 cases, yesterday we had 18,700,” Mark Ghaly, the California Health and Human Services secretary, said Friday in an interview.

“At these levels ... it tells you that the hospitals in just two weeks are going to be much more impacted than they are now.”