A new stay-at-home order has been issued for all counties in the purple tier of California’s reopening plan (purple signified the most serious coronavirus risk level). That includes all of Southern California, as the state sees a surge in COVID-19 cases, with case rates increasing 50 percent in the first week of November.

The order, which requires Californians to stay home at night, starts at 10 p.m. this Saturday. It prevents personal gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., as well as requiring non-essential businesses to close during that time. The state compared it to March’s safer-at-home order, but unlike that one — which lasted all day — this one is only for the overnight hours. The state is referring to it as a “limited stay-at-home order.”

You can still go to the grocery store or the drug store after 10 if they’re open, walk your dog, or get takeout from restaurants that are open. People are also allowed to go to and from work at essential businesses, including those operating overnight. The state doesn’t plan any initial enforcement, though local jurisdictions are allowed to decide on a county level to enforce if necessary — California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that the order is “enforceable.”

This stay-at-home order is more limited than the one issued in March, Ghaly said in a press conference, because the state has learned a lot about how the virus spreads since then. These factors include:

  • Masks protect both you and those around you
  • Moving things outdoors significantly reduces the risk of exposure and transmission
  • Even those without symptoms, who look fine, are spreading the virus
  • Roughly 12% of today’s cases will be hospitalized in two to three weeks

“We know from our stay at home order this spring, which flattened the curve in California, that reducing the movement and mixing of individuals dramatically decreases COVID-19 spread, hospitalizations, and deaths,” Ghaly said in a statement.

But there’s no promise this order couldn’t tighten — according to Ghaly, the state may need to take “more stringent actions” if the curve isn’t flattened quickly.

Why we need to flatten the curve. (California Department of Public Health)

The state sees activities conducted overnight as more likely to be non-essential, and also more likely related to social activities and gatherings that could lead to more COVID-19 spread. That’s thanks to reduced inhibitions and reduced likelihood for wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance after hours, according to the state.

The order is set to remain in effect for one month, from Saturday, Nov. 21 until 5 a.m. on Dec. 21. Unlike the March stay-at-home order from the beginning of the pandemic, it only applies overnight and in purple-tier counties.

This is on top of an order that was already set to take effect this Friday in L.A. County, issued by our local health department, which will shut down non-essential businesses after 10 p.m.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

There were 11,478 new cases in the state’s latest COVID-19 daily reporting period, the highest seen in the current surge. That puts the state’s seven-day average at 9,665. It’s expected that 12% of all those current positive cases are expected to end up in hospital beds beds in 2-3 weeks.

The state’s 7-day positivity rate is 5.6%, at 5% over the past 14 days. That latter number has gone up from 3.3% to 5% in the past two weeks — a 52% increase.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 63.6% over the past 2 weeks, while COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations are up 40.5% in that time period. There are 4,523 current COVID-19 hospitalizations. There are 1,155 current ICU COVID-19 hospitalizations.

L.A. County’s new cases are up significantly, which Ghaly noted contributes greatly to the state’s numbers. Our numbers were 1,513 new cases on Nov. 1, with 5,031 new cases reported today.

Officials are unsure when the current virus will peak, and what it will peak at.

WHY ARE CASES UP?

There’s no single culprit, according to Dr. Ghaly. But it’s a combination of factors, including:

  • colder weather
  • more mixing
  • more opening
  • greater travel

Levels are higher across the state. Ghaly noted that this means that even your every-day activities are now riskier than they were a month ago, even if you’re doing the same things.

He suggested a formula for figuring out your chance of being infected:

Figuring out your chances at being infected with COVID-19. (California Department of Public Health)

Ghaly reiterated a list of high-risk activities:

  • Activities where it’s hard to mask the whole time, like eating and drinking
  • Activities where you see people you haven’t seen recently — people outside your own household — including close family members and friends who you may know well on a personal level
  • Activities where it’s hard to keep your distance, like playing board games or employees gathering in a break room and staff take their guard down
  • Activities that last a long time
  • Activities that don’t allow lots of fresh air to circulate

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”

California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly spoke more about the new order:

— MIKE ROE

This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2020 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.

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