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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

California LIFTS lockdown that has lasted for seven weeks as Governor Newsom uses secret data to predict that ICU capacity will improve - despite death toll increasing by 50% since start of 2021

 California has lifted its regional stay-at-home orders across the state on Monday, moving counties back into the tier-based reopening framework.

California Governor Gavin Newsom's office has decided to lift the orders as ICU availability in the regions that remained under the stay-at-home order, including the Bay area and Southern California are projected to rise above the 15% threshold that triggered the lockdown measures, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The announcement marked the most tangible sign yet that California, which emerged in recent months as a leading U.S. hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic, has moved beyond the worst days of a crisis that pushed much of its healthcare system to the breaking point.


Governor Gavin Newsom said infection rates and hospital admissions have since declined dramatically. Projections show available ICU capacity climbing well above minimum thresholds over the next month

California Governor Gavin Newsom's office has decided to lift the orders as ICU availability in the regions that remained under the stay-at-home order, including the Bay area and Southern California are projected to rise above the 15% threshold that triggered the lockdown measures

California Governor Gavin Newsom's office has decided to lift the orders as ICU availability in the regions that remained under the stay-at-home order, including the Bay area and Southern California are projected to rise above the 15% threshold that triggered the lockdown measures

Counties will move back to the tiered system, with most regions across the state expected to move into the purple tier, meaning personal care services like hair salons can re-open with modifications and restaurants can open for outdoor service.

California, the United States' most populous state, emerged as a leading U.S. epicenter of the pandemic despite re-imposing some of the most stringent restrictions on social gatherings and business activity.

Last week, health officials in the state were investigating whether a homegrown coronavirus strain could be partly to blame for the recent surge in infections after the death toll in California nearly doubled in less than three months.

The improved outlook in California, the most populous U.S. state with 40 million residents, came as the country as a whole surpassed the alarming milestone of 25 million known infections, with nearly 419,000 lives lost during the pandemic, even as states accelerate their vaccine distribution. 

California has reported over 3.1 million cases and 36,745 deaths so far, but the number of new infections appear to be slowing after a surge following the Holiday season.

California suffered one of the nation's worst winter Covid spikes, with hospital intensive care units overwhelmed, ambulances backed up for hours at a time, and cases more than doubling since December to over three million

California suffered one of the nation's worst winter Covid spikes, with hospital intensive care units overwhelmed, ambulances backed up for hours at a time, and cases more than doubling since December to over three million

The Fred 62 restaurant is open for takeout and delivery in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. California has lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide in response to improving coronavirus conditions

The Fred 62 restaurant is open for takeout and delivery in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. California has lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide in response to improving coronavirus conditions

The state' top health official said earlier this month that the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients statewide had steadily declined, showing signs of the virus leveling off.

California's stay-at-home restrictions, among the most stringent constraints on business and social life imposed anywhere in the country, were triggered in early December when available space in hospital intensive care units reached maximum capacity.

Governor Gavin Newsom said infection rates and hospital admissions have since declined dramatically. Projections show available ICU capacity climbing well above minimum thresholds over the next month.

'We´re seeing a flattening of the curve - everything that should be up is up, everything that should be down is down - case rates, positivity rates, hospitalizations, ICUs,' Newsom told reporters. 

The graph depicts the rapid increase of infections between late November through December in California. The increase is being blamed on what researchers believe is a homegrown strain of the coronavirus

The graph depicts the rapid increase of infections between late November through December in California. The increase is being blamed on what researchers believe is a homegrown strain of the coronavirus 

In California, more than 3.1 million cases have been reported and 36,790 people have died. More than 18,000 people died in the state in less than three months

In California, more than 3.1 million cases have been reported and 36,790 people have died. More than 18,000 people died in the state in less than three months

'But we are not out of the woods,' Newsom added, urging people to keep abiding by mask-wearing requirements and social distancing until collective immunity can be achieved through vaccinations.

The stay-at-home rules ended on Monday had required residents to remain largely indoors and avoid travel around the clock, except as necessary for permitted activities such as grocery shopping, medical appointments, individual outdoor exercise and dog walks.

The governor stressed that lesser restrictions imposed in November remained in effect for most of the state - a nightly curfew on all indoor social gatherings and non-essential activities outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

He said 54 of California's 58 counties remain under that curfew for now as part of the state's color-coded purple tier of the strictest COVID-19 public health measures.

After the stay-at-home order was lifted, elected officials in many counties announced they would move to allow the reopening of outdoor restaurant dining and other services.

CA health chief says COVID infection curve 'beginning to flatten'
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A person picks up food to go at 'Tacos Tu Madre,' restaurant in Los Angeles Monday

A person picks up food to go at 'Tacos Tu Madre,' restaurant in Los Angeles Monday

Healthcare workers give COVID-19 tests at the CityTestSF at Alemany Farmer's Market location during the coronavirus pandemic in San Francisco

Healthcare workers give COVID-19 tests at the CityTestSF at Alemany Farmer's Market location during the coronavirus pandemic in San Francisco

'We will be moving forward with some limited re-openings, including outdoor dining and personal services,' San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a tweet.

Heavily populated Orange County south of Los Angeles planned to lift some restrictions as well, said Jessica Good, a spokesperson for the county health agency.

In Los Angeles County, home to 10 million people, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said outdoor dining will reopen Friday with capacity limits for restaurants.


Apart from outdoor dining, nail and hair salons may also reopen on a limited basis to indoor service, with customers and staff required to wear masks, while certain youth sports competitions are permitted to resume as well.

Newsom said California has tripled its pace of administering vaccines, reporting giving nearly 2.2 million doses out of 4.1 doses shipped to the state as of Saturday. The goal is to give 1 million more shots over the next 10 days.

As previously announced, Californians aged 65 and older have are now eligible for vaccines along with healthcare workers, first-responders, food and agricultural workers, teachers and school staff.

After those groups, immunization eligibility will be prioritized among the general public on the basis of age, Newsom said.

LA County begins opening mass COVID vaccination sites
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Republicans said Newsom was relaxing the rules in response to political pressure and the threat of a recall. Republican organizers have until mid-March to gather 1.5 million signatures to force a recall vote against Newsom, who is halfway through his first term.

'This Governor´s decisions have never been based on science. Him re-opening our state is not an attempt to help working Californians, but rather an attempt to counter the Recall Movement. It´s sad and pathetic,' California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson tweeted.

Jeff Smith, the Santa Clara County executive, said his county had no plans to impose stricter rules but criticized the state's decision.

'Essentially it´s a decision being made politically that puts people´s lives at risk, especially in Southern California,' he told The Mercury News.

The criticism wasn´t limited to Newsom´s partisan political opponents.

Public health officials said Monday that the state will return to a system of county-by-county restrictions intended to stem the spread of the virus. Pictured, Eric and Tess from Pasadena, Calif., enter the Skylight Book store, decorated with a poster of American poet Amanda Gorman, in Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles

Public health officials said Monday that the state will return to a system of county-by-county restrictions intended to stem the spread of the virus. Pictured, Eric and Tess from Pasadena, Calif., enter the Skylight Book store, decorated with a poster of American poet Amanda Gorman, in Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles

Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman of Glendale said state lawmakers have been kept out of the loop on changing rules that Newsom's administration has used to impose COVID-19 restrictions.

'If you think state legislators were blindsided by, and confused about, the shifting & confusing public health directives, you´d be correct,' she tweeted. 'If you think we have been quiet about it in Sacramento, you´d be wrong.'

Newsom said the appropriate people had been notified in advance and called the suggestion that he was lifting the order due to political pressure 'nonsense.'

The state's purple public health safety tier, which most counties will now be in, allows for outdoor dining, the openings of hair and nail salons and outdoor church services. Bars that only serve beverages cannot be open.

The county-by-county tier system uses various metrics to determine the risk of community transmission and applies color codes - purple, red, orange or yellow - which correspond to transmission risk levels.

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