Tuesday: State projections showed that intensive care units could be full by the middle of December. Also: What’s at stake in the Senate pick.

Credit…Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Good morning.

There’s no way around it: California is in a bad spot, and things are likely to get worse before they get better.

The state’s intensive care units could be overloaded by the middle of December, and its hospitals could be dangerously close to full by Christmas, according to sobering projections Gov. Gavin Newsom presented on Monday.

And the strain could be even worse in the hardest-hit areas, like the San Joaquin Valley, which was projected to reach 83 percent of its hospital capacity by Dec. 24.

“If these trends continue, California will need to take drastic action,” Mr. Newsom said in a briefing, adding that more severe restrictions, including full stay-at-home orders, could come within the next couple of days.

Already, 99 percent of California’s residents are under the curfew in place for counties in the state’s most restrictive purple reopening tier. And other counties have gone even further. Los Angeles County has shut down outdoor dining, while Santa Clara County’s temporary ban on contact sports prompted the San Francisco 49ers to move its next two games to the home of the Arizona Cardinals.

California is just one of several states that had appeared to have gained control of the virus, only to see it spread rapidly throughout the fall. On Sunday it became the first state to record over 100,000 cases in just a week, according to a New York Times database.


A Covid-19 modeling team at the University of Arizona recently urged the state of Arizona to take action to stem hospitalizations or else “risk a catastrophe on a scale of the worst natural disaster the state has ever experienced.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state would take a series of emergency actions as it faces a new “nightmare of overwhelmed hospitals.”

Officials had spent the weekend talking with local leaders and health care providers about their concerns, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services.


“Everything is on the table, in terms of how we guide the state through this,” he said. “And we want to make sure what we do is impactful and as time-limited as possible.”

But unlike early in the pandemic, when just a few states bore the brunt, the tidal wave of cases slamming the entire country has limited the likelihood of aid from the federal government or other states, the governor said.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the United States for November surpassed four million on Saturday, more than double the record set in October.

By contrast, after three weeks of lockdown in England, the number of new cases has fallen 30 percent, according to new data.


Mr. Newsom emphasized that California would be able to build on efforts that the state began earlier this year, including a registry of retired or part-time health care workers who would be willing to return to work. Eleven surge health care facilities could be prepared quickly to receive patients.

“We don’t anticipate this,” he said, referring to the alarming hospitalization figures. “I want folks to know we intend to bend this proverbial curve.”

The governor once again ran through a long list of measures he said the state had taken to get financial help to struggling residents and businesses.


And he added that vaccines could be available for some frontline health care workers as early as the middle of this month.

But he implored the federal government to send more relief.

“We need Congress to act with urgency,” he said.

(This article is part of the California Today newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox.)

New York Times