California Lifts Stay-at-Home Orders
With most California counties at a purple Tier 1 level of COVID-19 cases, the California Department of Public Health announced today that it was ending the regional Stay-at-Home order for all areas throughout the state. In three regions that had previously remained under the order—the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and Southern California—the department reported four-week ICU capacity projections above 15 percent. This projection allows the regions to exit the order that was announced Dec. 3 following the United States Thanksgiving holiday.
“Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH director and state public health officer. “Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved live, and we are turning a critical corner.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread throughout California in March, the state has experienced a few different stay-at-home orders and business restrictions, in addition to re-openings that required businesses to operate under safety guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Sacramento’s restrictions were lifted Jan. 12, but the Northern California Bay Area was not operating under that order.
“California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible, and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the healthcare system to the degree we had feared.”
Under the new model, Los Angeles remains a Tier 1 region, which signifies widespread COVID-19 cases, a designation that is affecting 54 other counties, comprising most of the 58-county state. Within counties that fall into a purple tier, restaurants are able to serve customers for outdoor dining with modifications, nail and hair salons may operate under limited capacity indoors with modifications and mask regulations, and youth sports will resume.
“[It’s] not a light switch going back to the way things were a year-plus ago,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a Jan. 25 press conference. “We are still now within these tiers, tiers that we believe have served us well as it relates to modifying activity and behavior.”
Local officials in each county retain the authority to take steps necessary to ensure the safety in their areas, which could include implementing their own restrictions and stay-at-home orders. At press time, California reported 27,007 new COVID-19 cases.