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.
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.”
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.