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COVID-19 crisis improves in Northern California, but LA County braces for more

Rong-Gong Lin II, Luke Money, Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

As of Tuesday, Greater Sacramento had more than 9% of its ICU beds available, and was projected to have an available capacity of at least 15% four weeks from now — the criteria to exit the stay-at-home order. The move will permit counties to allow for the reopening of hair salons and barbershops in a limited capacity and allow other businesses, including restaurants, to resume some outdoor operations.

San Francisco also had encouraging data. Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco's director of public health, said that while coronavirus cases rose by 70% after Thanksgiving, they rose only by 28% since Christmas and New Year's.

"The rate of increase is not as severe as after Thanksgiving," Mayor London Breed said at a media briefing Tuesday. "This is some good news."

But the Bay Area continues with the stay-at-home rules because available intensive care unit capacity across the region is still critical — at less than 5%.

For instance, in Santa Clara County, conditions in hospitals are still strained. The morgues at three hospitals are at capacity and four others are near capacity, said Dr. Ahmad Kamal, the county health preparedness director.

In fact, there are so many COVID-19 patients in Silicon Valley's hospitals, they have effectively squeezed out non-COVID patients from the ICU, Kamal said.

 

"This means that either their care is being deferred or that they are being taken care of at a level of care that is less than one would ideally want," Kamal said. The consequences of deferring important medical care will become apparent in the months and years to come, "because these people are going to get sicker and their needs are going to increase."

But on the positive side, while hospitalizations are still worsening, the increase is "not as fast" as it was, Kamal said.

Statewide, officials said there is some initial evidence the Christmas spike has not been as bad as the Thanksgiving spike.

The number of coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized throughout California has plateaued at just under 22,000, and new COVID-19 admissions have also declined — from roughly 3,500 new hospitalized patients a day last week to between 2,500 and 2,600, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's health and human services secretary.

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