People wearing masks shop in downtown Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
COVID 2021

Stay-home order triggered for Santa Cruz County, Bay Area region after ICU capacity drops to 12.9%

Residents now have about 36 hours to make preparations; the new restrictions will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. That puts Friday, Jan. 8, as the re-evaluation date for any reopening of closed services.

What had been inching closer for nearly three weeks is now reality: Santa Cruz County and the rest of the Bay Area region were added to California’s stay-at-home order after regional ICU bed availability fell below 15%.

ICUs in Bay Area hospitals dipped to 12.9% capacity as of Wednesday morning, state officials announced, triggering the order. It comes on the same day that the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Santa Cruz County to a Dominican Hospital nurse.

Residents now have about 36 hours to make preparations. The new restrictions will go into effect in Santa Cruz County at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday and last for three weeks, through Christmas and the New Year.

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The revaluation date for any reopening of closed services will be Friday, Jan. 8. At that time, reopening projections will be based on four-week projections of a region’s ICU capacity.

ICU capacity in Santa Cruz County has shrunk significantly in recent days and, as of Wednesday, Santa Cruz County had run out of available ICU beds, according to county spokesman Jason Hoppin.

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Along with Santa Cruz, the Bay Area region is comprised of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties. Some of those counties elected to adopt stay-home restrictions early due to local ICU capacity.

While Santa Cruz’s hospitals make up only a small part of the regional ICU availability the strain on local ICU facilities and staff is significant.

Watsonville Community Hospital CEO Dan Brothman said they have a four-bed ancillary ICU, but they don’t have the staff to open it. Still, he insisted that “no patient has suffered,” and that “we are able to take care of everyone we have.”

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Here’s what to know about what will be able to stay open and what will have to close:

What will stay open if the order takes effect?

When a remote-work option is not possible, the following places will be able to stay open with 100% masking and social distancing:

  • Schools that are already open for in-person learning
  • Playgrounds
  • Non-urgent medical and dental care
  • Child care and pre-kindergarten programs
  • Critical infrastructure
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What will close?

  • Indoor recreational facilities
  • Hair salons and barbershops and other personal care services
  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums
  • Movie theaters
  • Wineries
  • Bars, breweries, and distilleries
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering
  • Live audience sports
  • Amusement parks

What other sectors of the economy will see modifications?

  • Outdoor recreational facilities: Allow outdoor operation only without any food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.
  • Retail: Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Shopping centers: Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Hotels and lodging: Allow to open for critical infrastructure support only.
  • Restaurants: Allow only for take-out, pick-up, or delivery.
  • Offices: Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.
  • Places of worship and political expression: Allow outdoor services only.
  • Entertainment production including professional sports: Allow operation without live audiences. Additionally, testing protocol and “bubbles” are highly encouraged.

Please see our full FAQ on statewide restrictions.

Here is the reaction we heard from local from restaurant owners upon learning of the next round of stay-at-home orders.

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Other COVID-19 Resources

DATA & CHARTS: A complete snapshot of COVID-19 cases, deaths, positivity rate, ICU capacity and more in Santa Cruz County

TESTING: I think I might need a COVID-19 test. Now what?

VACCINE PLAN: 1,590 COVID-19 vaccine doses headed to Santa Cruz County. How will they get distributed?

TIP LINE: Have a COVID-related story idea or question? Let us know

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