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ICUs Almost Full, California Weighs 'Drastic' Action

Governor warns he may impose wide stay-at-home orders
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2020 8:33 AM CST

(Newser) – California's ICU units are currently 75% full and the state is on track to run out of beds in about two weeks, reports the Los Angeles Times. That's a big part of the reason Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Monday that he might soon have to impose stay-at-home orders in the hardest-hit areas. "If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic—arguably drastic—actions," Newsom said. The state now has more than 7,700 COVID patients hospitalized, its highest number since the pandemic began, and more than 1,800 of them are in ICU units. Elsewhere:

  • Milestone coming: The nation is expected to reach the unwanted figure of 100,000 COVID hospitalizations for the first time in the next few days, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Rhode Island is preparing to use field hospitals, reports CNN, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Monday that he's "now worried about overwhelming the hospital system." Cuomo said the state is preparing emergency measures, including possible regional shutdowns.

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  • Big picture: Yes, the bleak news comes amid major progress on the vaccine front. But a lengthy assessment of where things stand on the coronavirus by Donald G. McNeil Jr. in the New York Times includes this quote from Dr. Ashish Jha from Brown University’s School of Public Health. "The next three months are going to be just horrible." One of the stats: The US is on track to "easily surpass" the daily average of 2,200 deaths from the spring.
  • Hard decisions loom: Governors will face wrenching decisions in the coming weeks as the first vaccines are made available in limited quantities. Health care workers will be first, but then the picture blurs. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lugan Grisham lays out a hypothetical scenario to Axios. "So I've got 700,000 people I need to start getting the vaccine to, and I get 25,000 doses," she says. "That will be hard, and what we’ll do is, we'll allocate it per community in the same way we do flu."
  • Guidance: A CDC panel will vote Tuesday on determining who should get first priority on the vaccines, per CNBC. However, it will be up to individual states to decide whether to follow the guidelines. (The obese, seen as particularly vulnerable, might be given high priority.)

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