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California Is Days Away From A Regional Stay-At-Home Order

A minimum 3-week stay-at-home order is expected in California as hospitals experience an unprecedented surge in intensive care COVID-19 patients.
A minimum 3-week stay-at-home order is expected in California as hospitals experience an unprecedented surge in intensive care COVID-19 patients.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced most of the state will come under a stricter set of limitations as intensive care units reach near-capacity levels with the latest pandemic surge in coronavirus cases.

Regional stay-at-home orders will likely go into effect "in the next day or two" in places with less than 15% ICU availability, Newsom said in a daily briefing with reporters.

Once it is triggered, the order will remain effect for at least three weeks. It will be lifted when ICU capacity becomes more available.

The plan prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes many business operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires masking and physical distancing in all others.

Although he stressed the "life and death" consequences of obeying the latest restrictions, Newsom offered some optimism about the state's ability to "bend the curve" of the terrifying surge that has overwhelmed health care delivery systems in recent weeks.

"This is not a permanent state," he repeated.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel," he added, noting the imminent arrival of coronavirus vaccines.

He reassured residents that officials are "not anticipating having to do this again."

But he added, "We need to do everything we can to stem the tide."

California has reported more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 19,400 deaths. The number of new cases on Wednesday surpassed all previous records with 20,759 new reported infections.

Public health officials say the impact of COVID-19 cases that will likely result from travel and gatherings over the Thanksgiving weekend have yet to be recorded.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.