California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued a stay-at-home order for the state’s Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California regions if they reach less than 15% capacity in their intensive care units (ICUs), effective December 5. This order does not apply to the provision of dental care and other essential health services, according to the California Dental Association (CDA).
“We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California’s hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks. By invoking a stay-at-home order for regions where ICU capacity falls below 15%, we can flatten the curve as we’ve done before and reduce stress on our healthcare system,” said Newsom.
Once triggered, the stay-at-home order will remain for three weeks. Residents of regions that see a drop below 15% in ICU capacity will be required to stay at home as much as possible and minimize mixing to reduce unnecessary exposure. Leaving home to seek medical care including dentistry will be allowed, in addition to grocery shopping, outdoor worship, and other activities. K-12 schools that already are open can remain open, and retailers can operate indoors with no more than 20% capacity.
“We know what a struggle this pandemic has been for so many California families, but our actions have saved countless lives,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary. “This targeted action will preserve vital ICU beds for people who need them, whether they’re COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke.”
“Staying home for three weeks is a sacrifice, but if every Californian did that for a month, we could stop this disease in its tracks,” said Dr. Erica Pain, acting state public health officer. “This public health order strikes the balance between saving lives, providing essential services that we all rely on, and still allowing Californians to participate in lower-risk outdoor activities that are crucial for our physical and mental health.”
The CDA advises dentists to remain vigilant in their safety measures and protocols, including following guidance from the California Department of Public Health. Also, the CDA encourages practices to ensure they have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, communicate with patients, and reinforce the gravity of the crisis by urging peers, patients, and staff to follow stay-at-home guidance and state directives.