California entered its second week of more strict stay-at-home orders on Monday, and the Covid-19 situation around the state has only grown worse.
Greater Sacramento and the Bay Area fell below the 15% ICU capacity needed to avoid a stay-at-home order, joining Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley under lockdown.
Only the Northern California region remains above the threshold 28.1% ICU availability. ICU availability in the San Joaquin Valley is at 0.0%, with Southern California clocking in at 0.5%. By Thursday afternoon, that number was also 0.0%
Greater Sacramento has recorded 14.1% availability and the Bay Area has 12.9%
Statewide ICU availability is 4.1%
The state is averaging 63.9 new cases per 100,000 residents, with 52,281 new cases on December 17 and 379 additional deaths for a total of 21,860. The statewide positivity test rate is 11.3%.
Covid-19 case numbers have doubled in Mono County over the past 30 days, a reflection of state and national trends. The local positivity rate is 22.7% and the per capita positivity rate sits at 22.7%.
County supervisors continued to advocate for increased local control at Tuesday’s board meeting, with repeated questions about how Mono County could make the case to be classified differently and keep businesses [more] open.
Additionally, Supervisor John Peters reported on plans being coordinated by a Southern California regional taskforce that aims to represent the region as a whole in advocating for economic relief and a business recovery plan.
Peters expressed a hope that Mono County could be classified differently from the rest of the region if local Covid-19 conditions improve, as the county’s limited ICU beds have little to no impact on the region’s capacity as a whole.
In regards to concerns about additional industries being shut down, Mono County Public Health Officer Tom Boo said, “Everything is on the table with our continually exponentially skyrocketing cases.” Specifically speaking on Mammoth
Mountain Ski Area, Boo added, “If cases continue to rise, I think closure of any and all of those [businesses] have to be on the table.”
White Mountain Fire Department Chief and local EMS coordinator Dave Doonan called in to give his perspective on the local Covid situation.
“Although I’m not deeply involved in transporting patients in Mono County,” Doonan said, “we are in a crisis right now, I’m not as optimistic as Dr. Boo. Northern Inyo Hospital is at or near capacity.”
“People who call [the virus] a hoax have no idea what’s going on,” he continued.
County staff brought back a penalty ordinance for individuals and businesses that violate Covid-related guidance; the board had previously asked staff to lower proposed penalty amounts, reaffirm a commitment to outreach and education before punishment, and include specific language about training enforcement officials.
The revised ordinance lowered penalty amounts to $100/day for the first 5 days, with $500 for every day beyond that and outlined all steps taken prior to enforcing a penalty (outreach, education, appeal, etc). Members of county staff selected to work as enforcement officers will received mandatory training before they can begin their new roles.
Staff was also instructed to limit the scope of the ordinance to unincorporated Mono County unless an enforcement agreement is reached with the Town of Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth Lakes has asked Mono County to assume a supporting role to the town’s enforcement efforts and that the two coordinate enforcement and outreach with one another.
“This is a tool in the toolbox for Public Health, for our enforcement team and both the town and the county and it’s also hopefully a way to in effect level the playing field for those that are doing the right thing,” Peters said of the enforcement ordinance.
Supervisor Jennifer Kreitz opposed the additional ordinance and expressed her feeling that the county would be able keep people in compliance without it. She proved the lone “no” vote on the item, which passed 4-1.
Inyo County has seen a dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases in recent days, with 44 new cases added on Monday, December 14th, in addition to one death. It added another 12 cases Tuesday.
As of Thursday, the county had 114 active Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths. The majority of those cases are in northern Inyo county.
County Supervisor Jeff Griffiths gave a brief update to Bishop City Council at its meeting on the 14th.
“It’s bad and I’m on these statewide calls and it’s bad everywhere in the state,” Griffiths said, “Reports from the hospital are that you can’t fly anyone out.”
Griffiths reiterated a common talking point used to illustrate how Covid-19 waves progress: once case numbers reach a peak, hospitalizations will reach a peak a week after, with deaths beginning to peak an additional week after that.
The limiting factor, he explained, is staff capacity to care for sick patients.
“There was a time when you could pull traveling nurses and resources from an area,” he explained, “The only way that mutual aid works is you have to have an unaffected place you can pull from. There is no unaffected place in America.”
He concluded: “It’s bad right now and it’s going to get even worse in the next week or two.”
Inyo County Supervisors received an update on the situation the following day at their board meeting.
In addition to the recent spike in cases, Health and Human Services Director Marilyn Mann reported a countywide positivity rate of 7.5%.
Inyo County Public Health Director James Richardson said that there were seven confirmed positive Covid patients at Northern Inyo Hospital, with one bed available.
Griffiths related a story on Tuesday about a patient who broke their femur and yet could not be transferred out to Reno because of capacity issues.
“I was told they’d have had to have broken both femurs [to get transferred]” said Griffiths, who added, “Our system is on the verge of being overwhelmed. This is not the time to be tired of it [Covid protocols and staying at home], but time to double-down on our efforts and do the right thing.”
In other state news …
A judge in San Diego County ruled that local strip clubs Pacers and Cheetah’s may remain open despite the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Judge Joel Wohlfeil, in his ruling, questioned the correlatiion between ICU bed capacity and the goings-on at the clubs. He found that the defendants in the case, the California Attorney General’s office, gave no evidence that live adult entertainment or restaurants in compliace with protocols have impacted the Southern California region.
The case came about after the AG’s office sent cease-and-desist letters to the establishments in question stating that they were in violdaiton of the stay-at-home order.
Wohlfeil’s ruling may far-reaching consequences for the San Diego restaurant industry in their struggle to remain open and profitable.
However, Wholfeil’s decision on the case runs counter to another San Diego County judge’s finding, in a different case, that rejected requests from gyms and restaurants to reopen.
San Diego County put out a statement on Wednesday afternoon that they would suspend enforcement of the relevant portions of the stay-at-home order until they can gain clarity about the scope of the ruling.
San Diego news drawn from KUSI and the Times of San Diego.