California at COVID-19 ‘Tipping Point’

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -
A worker clears and cleans a table along the sidewalk outside a restaurant that continues to remain open following new coronavirus restrictions limiting restaurants to take-out only in Los Angeles County, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Redondo Beach, California, Monday. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

California’s governor said on Monday the state was at a “tipping point” in the COVID-19 pandemic that would soon overwhelm hospitals as political leaders nationwide turn to increasingly aggressive measures to hold back the latest surge.

Governor Gavin Newsom said he may clamp new “stay-at-home” orders on California’s roughly 40 million residents in the face of infections and hospitalizations that are still rising weeks before emergency vaccines are predicted for release.

“(California) has worked hard to prepare for a surge – but we can’t sustain the record high cases we’re seeing,” Newsom said on Twitter. “Current projections show CA will run out of current ICU beds before the end of December.

The governor told reporters discussions were underway among state health officials over the potential stay-at-home order. He expects to issue a decision in the next day or two.

Last week he ordered a daily curfew barring social gatherings and other nonessential activities across most of the state between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily.

Newsom, who has largely banned indoor dining in the state, has apologized after photos surfaced of the first-term Democrat eating dinner with 11 other people, including a prominent lobbyist, at a French restaurant near Napa. None wore masks.

More than 4.2 million new COVID-19 infections and 36,000 COVID-19 related deaths were reported across the United States in November, according to a Reuters tally. Hospitalizations are at a pandemic high and deaths the most in six months.

Nearly 93,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, up 11% from last week and double the number reported a month ago, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county public health reports.

Americans who have endured eight months of restrictions, lockdown and business closures in the face of the pandemic are pinning their hopes on vaccines developed by drug companies Pfizer Inc. and Moderna that are awaiting U.S. government approval for emergency use.