Strain on California hospitals continues to be mounting quick, Newsom says.


Hospitals across California have continued to fill quickly to dangerous levels as state and local officials try to curb the explosive spread of the coronavirus in the state, Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday.

More than 10,000 Covid-19 patients are now hospitalized in the state, he said, 72 percent more than two weeks ago. The number in the intensive care unit has increased by 69 percent during this time.

“You can see how fast this is growing,” he said at a press conference.

The most populous state in the country tried to prepare for an autumn wave by preparing emergency health facilities, storing thousands of ventilators, preparing tests and other measures. These preparations are now being extensively tested on the deadly upward trend in the state’s case numbers.

As of Monday, millions of Californians live under the most aggressive restrictions since March when the state imposed the country’s first stay-at-home order. Experts say order helped contain the spread of the virus in California when it got out of hand in places like New York City and crowded hospitals there.

This time around, California’s new guidelines to stay home as much as possible in three of its five regions have encountered much more resistance, despite the fact that the virus is more common today than ever before. The feeling of exhaustion and frustration is more palpable as the guides ask the tired residents to get through another difficult period before vaccines are widely available.

Many people in the state say they followed guidelines for the betterment of their lives by postponing outdoor activities and wearing masks, and that the new restrictions send a confusing message by closing playgrounds and preventing people from socializing with relatives meet, also keep outdoor shopping centers open.

In addition, law enforcement officials across the state, including Orange County’s Sheriff Don Barnes, have said they will not enforce the new restrictions.

On Monday, after new restrictions went into effect in most states, Mr. Newsom tried to stave off any panic about hospital capacity.

He said the state still had more than 73,000 open hospital beds and regional leaders were looking into where elective surgeries could withdraw to make room for emergency patients. He discussed programs to hire additional health care workers and allow some patients in severely affected areas to receive oxygen at home.

“I hope some of this gives the frame more optimism,” he said.

Even so, state officials say they expect the situation to worsen as the effects of Thanksgiving trips and gatherings clear.

“We know that cases that may have occurred during Thanksgiving will be popping up right now,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Secretary of State for Health and Human Services.

Mr Newsom also announced on Monday the nationwide rollout of a new app developed in partnership with Google and Apple that can notify users when they may have been exposed to someone who tests positive for the virus. The technology relies on Bluetooth to tell which phones have been several feet apart for more than a few minutes and can be difficult to get people to use, some experts have said.

The system is voluntary, and is getting into a pandemic for more than nine months that has surpassed all other efforts to alert people to potential vulnerabilities through contact tracing, leading to skepticism about how effective the app will be.


Robert Dunfee