Surging COVID-19 cases in the San Joaquin Valley could push hospitals beyond their existing ICU capacity by mid-December, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned on Monday.

“This is the tipping point,” Newsom said during an online news conference.

The state’s calculations show the Valley will require additional intensive care beds by mid December, reaching 120% of current capacity if California’s COVID trajectory doesn’t change.

“This is (what would happen) in the absence of making better decisions,” Newsom said, as he encouraged residents to adhere to the state’s health orders.

“California’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 89% in the last two weeks,” he said. “If these trends continue, our current hospitalizations could increase by 2-3 times within one month.”

“If these trends continue, our current hospitalizations could increase by 2-3 times within one month.”Governor Gavin Newsom

It’s because of numbers like these that Newsom said a new stay-home order for counties in the state’s “purple” COVID tier could be coming soon.

Valley ICU Bed Capacity

In Fresno County, as of Sunday, there were 56 COVID-19 patients in hospital ICUs. There were just 14 ICU beds remaining across all hospitals in the county, down from 17 the day before.

Madera County has 7 COVID patients in ICU beds, with 14 remaining as of Sunday. That’s a slight improvement over the 13 ICU beds that were available on Saturday.

In Merced County, 11 patients are in ICUs, with 4 remaining available. Merced’s ICU capacity decreased on Sunday from 7 available beds the day before.

There are 12 COVID patients in Tulare County ICUs. There were 23 ICU beds available as of Sunday, an improvement of 1 from Saturday.

In Kings County there are more ICU beds available than current hospitalized COVID cases. There are 8 COVID patients in ICU and 10 available beds (no change from the prior day).

Hospital staffing could become acute, officials have warned, as the state cannot get as many additional resources as this past summer because other areas of the country are experiencing their own surges.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said his team has talked with health care professionals throughout California, and they’re already stretched quite thin. He added, that’s without the expected post-Thanksgiving surge in cases.

COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Expected

Newsom said he expects the California will receive an initial shipment of the Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in the next couple of weeks. He did not give an exact date.

“327,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine are headed to California in the next two weeks,” he says. “(That’s the) first dose with the second dose expected 3 weeks later.”

Assistance for Small Businesses

The governor also announced the creation of a $500 million COVID-19 relief grant for small businesses. The California Office of the Small Business Advocate is establishing the program, he said. Relief through grants of up to $25,000 to underserved micro and small businesses throughout the state will be available by early 2021. Non-profits would also be eligible. To sign up for updates on the program click HERE.

In addition to the grant program, Newsom is working to provide tax relief for impacted businesses. Newsom said he will direct the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to do the following:

  • Provide an automatic three-month extension for taxpayers filing less than $1 million in sales tax on the return and extend the availability existing interest and penalty free payment agreements to companies (with up to $5 million in taxable sales)
  • Broaden opportunities for more businesses to enter into interest-free payment arrangements.
  • Expand interest-free payment options for larger businesses particularly affected by significant restrictions on operations based on COVID-19 transmissions.

“This is a bridge. Not the end, just the beginning,” Newsom said.

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