California’s health department released to the public previously secret projections for future hospital intensive care unit capacity throughout the state, the key metric for lifting the coronavirus stay-at-home order
Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious-diseases control expert at the University of California,, was among the critics. He applauded the state for being more open. He said it’s “not utterly transparent, but I have a better idea of what’s happening.” In December, when California became the nation’s epicenter for the in the new year, Gov. announced a new stay-at-home order based on ICU capacity in each of five regions. Any region that fell below 15% had new restrictions imposed, including closures of hair and nail salons and other businesses and fewer customers allowed inside .
Four regions fell under the new order, and three remained there until Monday when stateannounced that four-week projections showed them rising above the 15% threshold, and Newsom said the ruling was lifted. At a news conference with Newsom, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly promised to reveal some of the information behind the projections. Several hours later, the agency released a chart showing forecasts for regional ICU capacity, per capita cases, and transmission rates. The capacity considers not only but those who would need intensive care for other reasons even if there were no pandemic.
The state said the Southern California region, which includes more than half the state’s population, will go from no ICU capacity under the state’s weighted formula to 33.3% capacity in four weeks, the most of any region. The San Joaquin Valley just to the north will jump from 0% to 22.3%, the state projects, while the San Francisco Bay Area will reach 25%, up from 8.2%. Los Angeles Countydirector Dr. Barbara Ferrer said she had not seen the governor’s algorithm but has confidence in the state. Currently, the county has very few ICU beds available, she said, “but it’s certainly better than it has been.”
The 13-county Greater Sacramento region is projected to have 27.3% capacity. But it’s currently stuck at 9.9% — virtually the same level two weeks ago whenthe stay-at-home order. Only the rural region never was under the order. However, the state now projects its capacity will fall from 47.9% to 18.9%. State officials did not explain the reasons for the steep decline. It’s unclear if the state will ultimately provide the level of day-to-day detail behind the projections currently available for its existing four-week modeling on hospitalizations, intensive care patients, and deaths.
Dr. Lee Riley, chairman of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Healthdivision, said he’s hopeful the state will provide that level of detail. “This is going in the right direction,” he said. Before Ghaly’s announcement, the secrecy in the Democratic Newsom administration brought recriminations from San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is exploring a challenge to Newsom. “Californians want to follow the science. Instead, we’re forced to follow a governor who decides on a whim the fate of millions of Californians while refusing to release the data behind his contradictory and arbitrary decisions,” Faulconer tweeted early Monday. California Assembly Republicans sent a letter to the for oversight hearings on data used to make decisions on the coronavirus. Associated Press Writer Stefanie Dazio contributed from Los Angeles.