California coronavirus death toll: Latest Covid-19 figures

Virus spike sees almost all of state’s 40 million residents under stay-at-home order

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Monday 28 December 2020 17:09
Passenger who died after collapsing on a plane had Covid-19, exposing crowded United Airlines flight to virus
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California has become an epicentre of US Covid infection with the state recently passing 2 million cases.

Governor Gavin Newsom has warned that hospitalisations in the state could soon double and swamped  hospitals are out of ICU beds.

The uncontrolled spike means that almost all of the 40 million residents of the state are now under a wide-ranging stay-at-home order.

The first case of Covid was recorded in California on 25 January and it took 292 days to reach 1 million infections on 11 November.

It then took just 44 days for that number to top the 2 million mark.

By 27 December California had seen an estimated 2.13 million positive cases and 24,220 deaths from the virus.

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But California’s struggle to contain the pandemic was not always the case, and in the early months the state avoided larger outbreaks seen in places like New York.

On 16 March the San Francisco Bay Area issued the country’s first regional shelter-in-place order.

California followed with its own order three days later, ordering residents to stay at home in the first statewide mandatory restriction in the country.

People were told not to leave their homes except for essential items such as food, medical prescriptions, health care or commuting to essential jobs.

The lockdown was at first viewed as a success, but state leaders soon came under pressure from businesses and workers to reopen.

By May Mr Newsom had started to relax social distancing measures with plans to re-open in phases.

But as the summer progressed and social distancing relaxed the virus again began to agressively spread.

This was combined with opposition to mask wearing in conservative areas of the state, such as Orange County.

Read more: Latest Florida Covid-19 figures

And sheriffs in Riverside, Fresno and Sacramento counties said they would not enforce Mr Newsome’s June order that required masks to be worn in public and high-risk areas.

The crisis first peaked in July with a record 2,232 hospitalisations on one day in Los Angeles County.

The second statewide surge began in October and cases quickly began to rise more rapidly than they did during the first summer peak.

With case numbers and hospitalisations soaring during November, health officials warned that they would soon run out of hospital beds unless action was taken.

So on 19 November Mr Newsom ordered a limited stay-at-home order that required non-essential workers to remain at home between 10pm and 5am, in areas that had the highest rates of positive cases and hospitalisations.

But with cases still surging Mr Newsom was forced to take stricter action.

Health bosses divided the state into five regions: Northern California, Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

When a region’s hospital Intensive Care Unit capacity falls below 15 per cent it must abide by the state’s latest stay-at-home order.

Once a region has the order triggered the state will not lift it for three weeks.

That means residents are required to stay home except for essential tasks and outdoor exercise.

Under the stay-at-home order indoor retail and shopping malls are capped at 20 per cent of indoor capacity.

Hair salons, nail salons, personal care services such as hair waxing, tattoo parlours, museums, aquariums, zoos, theme parks, and movie theatres are all closed.

Places of worship and gyms are only allowed to open for outdoor use.

Restaurants are open for takeout and delivery only, while wineries, bars, breweries, card rooms and family entertainment centres are all closed.

Hotels are only open for essential travellers, non-essential offices are remote work only and professional sport can have no live audiences.

Schools may open if they received a waiver for in-person instruction before the stay-at-home order.

If any of the state’s 58 counties is not impacted by a stay-at-home order then it falls under a four-tier colour coded re-opening plan, yellow, orange, red and purple.

Yellow means there is normal Covid spread and allows businesses to re-open indoor operations with physical distancing and face masks.

Purple means there is widespread Covid spread and nearly all business have to close or severely limit indoor operations.

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