By Debra Moore
Plumas County, along with most of the state of California, will be facing a new stay-at-home order as soon as within the next few days.
Gov. Gavin Newsom made that announcement during his news conference today, Dec. 3. After he outlined the increasing number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and ICU beds in use, he said, “If we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed.”
Newsom said it is time to pull the “emergency brake” and introduced a new regional based stay-at-home order — regions where the ICU capacity is falling below 15 percent will trigger the stay-at-home restrictions.
“This is the most challenging moment of the pandemic,” Newsom said, adding that, “Lives are in the balance; lives will be lost” if action isn’t taken.
With this new stay-at-home order, the state is divided into five regions, based on mutual aid capacity. Plumas County is part of the Greater Sacramento Region. There is a region north of Plumas that extends to the Oregon border, as well as a Bay Area region, a Central Valley Region (San Joaquin) and the Southern Region. Only the Bay Area region is expected to avoid the new stay-at-home orders, but just for for another week or two.
What does this mean for local residents?
Bars, wineries, and personal service providers (including hair salons and barbershops) will close for a minimum of three weeks.
Restaurants would be open for pickup or delivery only.
Schools could remain open with modifications.
Retail could remain open at 20 percent capacity.
In addition, all nonessential travel is restricted statewide. At its core the new stay-at-home order is meant to eliminate the mixing of people not in the same household.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health, said, it’s no longer a matter of “how we mix safely; it’s how we reduce mixing altogether.” The transmission rate of COVID is four times higher than it was six weeks ago, which means that any activity presents a greater likelihood of contracting the virus than just a month ago. He asked during today’s news conference for all Californians to cancel their travel plans for the upcoming holidays, as well as gatherings with individuals outside of their household.
“There is overwhelming evidence that this works,” Newsom said, citing California’s ability to bend the curve during the pandemic’s onset as proof.
“We recognize the gravity and importance of this moment,” Ghaly said. “We have seen other states achieve similar reductions in transmissions. We also see what has happened in Europe. It’s about timing; it’s about doing it now.”
“This is not a permanent state; it is a temporary state,” Newsom said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel; we are just a few months away from seeing real progress.”
Plumas County Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff stressed that point as well during an interview today. “The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is getting brighter, but we still have some hard times ahead in the coming weeks,” he said. “Now more than ever, all Plumas County residents can come together and do their part to protect our friends, family, neighbors, and the capacity of our health care system to take care of COVID and non-COVID patients alike.”
Newsom addressed the mental stress that he acknowledges everyone is under and encouraged Californians to take care of themselves mentally and physically — to take their dog for a walk; go sledding; walk on the beach; take a bike ride; go fishing; practice yoga and meditation.
“This is extremely difficult for everyone,” Woodruff said, “but it’s necessary to protect our entire healthcare system.”
During the news conference, Newsom was asked about some jurisdictions’ unwillingness to enforce the rules. He said that while he sees “overwhelming support for enforcement,” but for those who don’t want to enforce the rules, Newsom suggested that their CARES Act funding could be impacted. “We’re happy to redirect the dollars to counties that do comply.”
The new stay-at-home restrictions are not in place at this moment, but most of California, including Plumas County, should be prepared for their implementation at any time.