By KAREN VELIE
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order on Thursday that breaks the state into five regions that appear to have manipulated boundaries and will likely financially damage businesses in San Luis Obispo County because of cornavirus outbreaks in Southern California.
The new stay-at-home rules are triggered when a region’s ICU hospital capacity falls below 15%. Then for three weeks, most people are required to stay in their homes as much as possible.
The new rules include the closures of hair and nail salons, outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, movie theaters, wineries, playgrounds and bars. Additionally, retail store are restricted to 20 percent occupancy and offices must operate remotely.
Newsom has divided the state into five irregular and uneven regions: Northern California, Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties are in the Southern California region.
Of the 39.78 million people who live in California, Newsom’s office placed more than half, 22.99 million, in the Southern California region, according to U.S. Census bureau numbers. The five counties with the highest numbers of coronavirus cases are all located in the Southern California region.
As a result, even though San Luis Obispo County has only one coronavirus patient currently in the ICU, and 84% available ICU capacity, the county will likely fall under the stringent stay-at-home order because of a large number of coronavirs patients in hospitals in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
In contrast, there are only 2.94 million people living in the Greater Sacramento region.
Sacramento County, where Gov. Newsom resides, currently ranks seventh for the most coronavirus cases in the state. Even so, as three of the counties in the Greater Sacramento region currently have five active cases or less, those counties will help temper Sacramento County’s numbers.
There are no regions currently impacted by the stay-at-home order, but projections show four of the regions dropping below 15% ICU capacity in the next few days. The Bay Area is projected to cross the threshold later this month.
State Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham is calling for Gov. Newsom to “alter this nonsensical regional map to better take into account our area’s unique situation and hospital bed capacity.”
“The governor’s most recent order, which will lead to a lockdown of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, is arbitrary, irrational, and bordering on punitive,” Cunningham said in a press release. “As of now, we have plenty of hospital and ICU capacity here on the Central Coast. We cannot be shutting down local businesses — many of which have spent tens of thousands of dollars to retrofit their operation in order to comply with yesterday’s public health orders — because of limited ICU capacity in counties hundreds of miles from our community.”