Bay Area health officers warn of stricter COVID-19 rules as state reports distressing hospitalization rates

ByLauren Gee KGO logo
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Bay Area to tighten COVID-19 rules as hospitalizations rise
Santa Clara County health officials have tightened COVID-19 rules after they estimate that the county hospitals will reach or exceed capacity in the coming weeks. 3 Bay Area counties support the new rules and are warning they may have to follow suit.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Cases of COVID-19 in California have been climbing at an alarming rate for weeks and have prompted new safety restrictions across the Bay Area as the holiday season approaches.

California recorded nearly 12,000 new cases on Saturday, totaling 1,183,320 infections since the pandemic started in March.

Not only are cases rising, but hospitalization rates are worrying health officials in the Bay Area.

RELATED: California sees stunning rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, health secretary says

On Saturday, Nov. 28, the state reported a total of 6,972 coronavirus hospitalizations and 1,638 patients in the ICU. Just a month earlier on Oct. 28, the state recorded 2,342 hospitalizations and 663 patients in the ICU. That's nearly triple the number of patients. Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services, said Tuesday that hospitalizations were up 81% over the past two weeks. ICU hospitalizations were up 57%.

The Bay Area hospitalization numbers mirror the state. A month ago, there were 262 people hospitalized with COVID in the Bay Area; as of yesterday, that number had nearly tripled to 759, officials say.

The seven-day average of positive tests has gone from 3.3% to 6.0% in the past month. The 14-day average has gone from 3% to 6%, numbers from the California Department of Public Health revealed.

Santa Clara County health officials estimate that the county hospitals will reach or exceed capacity in the coming week. On Saturday, the county saw 760 new cases -- shattering the previous record by 215. There were also a record 239 COVID-19 patients at hospitals, 71 of them in intensive care units.

RELATED: 'This pandemic is like a high speed train': Santa Clara Co. announces new restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge

Santa Clara County health officials announced new store capacity and travel restrictions Saturday afternoon as hospitalizations and COVID -19 cases continue to rise at alarming rates.

Given the distressing numbers, Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody announced new safety rules for businesses and residents that would reduce the number of customers inside businesses, enact a 14-day quarantine for travelers and also put a temporary ban on youth, collegiate and professional sports.

"We have come to a place where our cases and our hospitalizations are so high that we must do something to settle things down," said Dr. Sara Cody.

In a press release, health officers from Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Francisco County and the city of Berkeley expressed their support of the South Bay's new restrictions and warned they may follow suit as cases increase.

"What we see in the South Bay today we may soon see across the whole Bay Area. These actions will help slow the spread of COVID in Santa Clara County and beyond." Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County Health Officer, said in a press release.

MAP: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules

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The state also announced roll backs for nine counties, including San Francisco and San Mateo County, which will both move from the red tier to join the majority of the other Bay Area counties in the most restrictive purple tier.

The rollbacks take effect Sunday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, urging residents to protect themselves and their families.

RELATED: San Francisco, San Mateo counties moving into restrictive purple tier amid case surge

San Francisco's Mayor London Breed tweeted, "This is the most aggressive surge SF has seen to date. We're currently averaging 118 new cases per day compared to 73 per day in the first week of November."

In San Mateo County, the health department reported an 85% spike in new COVID-19 cases from October to November. The county's new adjusted case rate is 7.6 per 100,000 population, officials said Saturday.

Nearly all of the state, including most of the Bay Area is now under a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and subject to the strictest regulations for businesses to operate, including a ban on indoor dining and limited capacity in stores.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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