Coronavirus cases are once again exploding nationally a week and a half after the Thanksgiving holiday saw millions of Americans defying stay home orders and risk infection to spend time with family. As experts predicted ahead of what is usually the busiest travel weekend of the year, new cases are contributing to hospital overcrowding across the country. ICU beds are filling at an alarming rate, which has now triggered an emergency lockdown in California.
On Tuesday, the same day President-Elect Joe Biden announced he’ll issue a 100-day national mandatory mask-wearing mandate as soon as he’s sworn in, the Calfornia Governor’s Office of Emergency Services issued its first emergency text alert to residents to tell them to stay home. “New public health stay at home order in your area. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly,” the alert read.
The new Regional Stay Home Order, which divides the state into five regions: Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, and imposes restrictions collectively on all counties within those regions.
California is issuing the largest wireless emergency alert in its history at noon, sending text messages telling residents in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley to stay home except for essential activities, according to @Cal_OES.
— Taryn Luna (@TarynLuna) December 8, 2020
The message was issued in English and Spanish through the state’s Wireless Emergency Alerts system following a Regional Stay-at-Home Order, which took effect in Northern California on Monday. A similar message was sent to several counties in Southern California and could be sent to other regions if they move into stay-at-home status.
— CA Public Health (@CAPublicHealth) December 8, 2020
Twitter users who live in the affected regions immediately started posting screenshots of the text alert.
If you had told me a year ago that this would be an emergency alert on my phone – to stay inside because the virus is spreading rapidly – I can’t even begin to imagine what would go through my head. pic.twitter.com/0pFcJ9HYWr
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) December 8, 2020
Did everyone in LA just get this emergency alert? Are we back in shelter in place or is this just more confusion? pic.twitter.com/QXUsPE8On0
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) December 8, 2020
Unfortunately, there are also those who’ll ignore this latest warning, just like they’ve ignored the pandemic all along.
CA: *sends emergency alert text to citizens asking them to stay at home*
— 👻Ghoul Spurs Ghoul👻 (@TimC_LA) December 8, 2020
According to my timeline, an “emergency alert” just went out to CA residents demanding that they “stay home” due to COVID-19. Defy all orders, California!
— Suburban Black Man 🇺🇸 (@goodblackdude) December 8, 2020
The new Stay Home Order restrictions are triggered by a single key metric: the availability of ICU hospital beds in the region. Once the region has less than 15 percent ICU availability, all counties within the region will be required to follow the Regional Stay Home Order within 24 hours. Restrictions will remain in place for at least three weeks, and then will only be lifted when the ICU capacity is greater than or equal to 15 percent. The ICU capacity will be assessed on a weekly basis. As of the publication of this Legal Alert, none of the five regions have crossed the 15 percent threshold.