© Reuters. A coronavirus information sign is seen in front of a Christmas tree in the Citadel Outlet shopping mall as the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak persists in stores
By Sharon Bernstein
Sacramento, Calif. (Reuters) – California's two most densely populated regions and its agricultural bread basket will stay at home as hospitals in the most populous U.S. state through Sunday evening as the COVID-19 pandemic hospitals.
The contract for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley was developed when intensive care units in one of the five regions had low capacity. Bars, hair salons, and barber shops will be closed, and restaurants will only be able to remain open for takeout and delivery.
The shutdowns, which go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, are triggered by an order announced on Wednesday by Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.
The San Francisco Bay Area will also be closed on Sunday evening due to a different order announced by officials there on Friday.
"We know people are tired of the harsh measures, but they are the only weapons we have to use to fight the virus," said Dr. Maggie Park, San Joaquin County's health officer in the state's hardest-hit agricultural area.
More than 25,000 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in California on Friday, officials said on Saturday, a record since the pandemic began. The state also recorded 209 deaths, bringing the total to 19,791.
Overall, the United States posted a record 228,407 new cases and 2,568 deaths on Friday, according to a Reuters tally.
As of Friday, more than 100,900 people were hospitalized with the disease in the United States. That number rose about 22% in the past 14 days, as the Reuters tally showed, but the growth rate has slowed from an increase of 47% in the past 14 days.
California's statewide orders, which take effect whenever a region has less than 15% of ICU capacity available, allows critical infrastructures to remain open, including schools that have received in-person tuition exemptions. Dental offices will also remain open.
The orders have been criticized by some Republican politicians, who say closing small businesses and ordering people to stay mostly at home will do more harm than good.
Critics also oppose decisions made by several Democratic politicians, including Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, to dine at an expensive Napa Valley restaurant that was legally open but at a time when the virus was rising and officials were killing people urged not to talk about the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Government lockdowns don't reduce cases or stop spikes," said Republican MP James Gallagher, who represents a district north of Sacramento not yet affected by the shutdown, in a press release after Newsom announced the regional plans.
The US death toll is currently close to 279,000. The University of Washington's Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts nearly 539,000 COVID-19 deaths by April 1, even if vaccines become available.
Joe Biden, a Democrat who defeated Donald Trump in the November election, has said that when he takes office on January 20, he will be issuing masked mandates where he has the authority to B. in federal buildings and for international travel.