Citing improving conditions in hospitals, state health officials Monday lifted all regional stay-at-home orders, including in the 11-county Southern California region, but counties will still be subject to tight regulations of the restrictive “purple” tier of economic reopening guidelines.
The regional stay-at-home order was imposed in Southern California late last year when intensive-care unit capacity dropped below 15%. The regional capacity subsequently dropped to an adjusted 0%.
But state officials said Monday that with hospitalization numbers trending downward, four-week projections now indicate ICU capacity will rise above the 15% threshold.
“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. Tomas Aragon, 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 lives and we are turning a critical corner.”
Although the state order has been lifted, individual counties are still able to impose stricter restrictions than the state.
But in general, lifting the state order could mean a resumption of outdoor dining, as well as at least some services at gyms, barber shops and nail salons, among other businesses.
A possible resumption of outdoor dining could be the biggest economic boon of the announcement. On Sunday, the California Restaurant Association sent its members a letter announcing the pending state decision, saying, “we thought you’d like to know this good news.”
The Riverside University Health System has reported 258,352 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, along with 2,777 virus-related deaths.
The agency does not provide updated statistics on weekends.
On Friday, 2,500 new cases were reported compared with 2,739 Thursday, plus 38 virus-related deaths, while COVID-19 hospitalizations countywide fell.
The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates and cover three- to four-week periods, sometimes longer.
COVID-positive hospitalizations countywide were at 1,497 Friday, a drop of 32 from Thursday. That included 335 intensive care unit patients, unchanged from a day ago. The county’s COVID patient count generally has been trending down since Jan. 12.
The number of known active virus cases countywide was 78,752 Friday, up 1,116. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 258,352– according to the county Executive Office.
Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 177,003.
On Thursday, the county’s SARS-Cov-2 vaccination reservation portal crashed because of heavy traffic that filled all available slots for weekend immunization clinics countywide. Interim county CEO Juan Perez apologized for the disruption, and the Executive Office replaced the website.
The new appointment portal can be accessed via http://www.rivcoph.org/COVID- 19-Vaccine. Guidelines on how to book appointments are available on the site.
Clinics are planned Monday to Friday, with some slots reserved specifically for residents in tier 1 of Phase 1B — those who are 65 years and older — under the California Department of Public Health’s revised vaccination guidance.
The county’s overall COVID-19 positive rate is 23.8%, down from 25.8% last week, based on state-adjusted figures.