A look at how SoCal region came out of state’s regional ICU lockdown

COVID-19. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.

Southern California entered California’s stay-at-home order in early December amid a holiday-timed COVID-19 surge that projected to see increased intensive care unit admissions statewide. 

At the time, California health officials projected the state’s regions would see their ICU capacities drop below 15%, which would ultimately trigger them to fall under the order that halted outdoor dining and other services once again. 

Since mid-December, the SoCal region hit 0% and has since remained there as of the latest state update Monday. That same day, the state rescinded the order, allowing counties to lift some restrictions.

“When you hear where it’s 0%, that doesn’t mean we have no ICU beds or staff available at all,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the time. “It means we’re now into a surge approach, (with) surge staffing and surge management — so (the ICU capacity) goes up and goes down by the hour, not just by the day.”

While COVID-19 numbers in the SoCal region, in which L.A. County’s figures play a significant role, deaths and hospitalizations continue to remain at levels that concern health officials. 

That being said, here’s what prompted the lifting of the order for four of the five areas affected: 

Regions had to remain under the regional stay-at-home order for a minimum of three weeks, which they surpassed. From there, the regions were all qualified to exit the order, according to California health officials who responded via email. 

“They entered the order based on current ICU capacity (below 15%), and exited the order based on projected ICU capacity (15% or greater),” officials added. 

The four-week projection for ICU capacity for the SoCal region ending on Feb. 21 is expected to return above the threshold to 33.3%, the highest jump of all five regions, according to Newsom.

State health officials have not responded to requests for comment regarding the most current ICU capacity percentages for the region. Prior to releasing data of its capacity projections, the state reportedly said it did not publicly share its metrics, which comprise using a half-dozen formulas, because they were too complex and could potentially mislead the public. 

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