“Stay-at-Home” Order Likely Extended, But No Official Word Yet

Posted By on January 8, 2021

The three-week “Stay at Home” order that was triggered for the Bay Area on December 18 after ICU capacity for the region fell below 15% was originally supposed to be revisited starting January 8th, but there has been no official word from the State of California.

A region is supposed to be able to exit the stay at home order when a 4-week projection is above or equal to 15%. To our knowledge, the state has not shared any of these projections, or exact methodology as to how these projections are made.

The city of San Francisco proactively extended their order “indefinitely” on December 31st, but we’re not aware of any other county making any official statement on the original deadline of January 8th.

Number of ICU Beds Currently “Available” in Bay Area
as of 1/6/21 – see data source

  • Bay Area Total – 267 (lowest number since at least March)
  • Alameda – 69
  • Contra Costa – 27
  • Marin – 14
  • Monterey – 33
  • Napa – 3
  • San Francisco – 46
  • San Mateo – 12
  • Santa Clara – 27
  • Santa Cruz – 4
  • Solano – 8
  • Sonoma – 24

Why a Drop in Available ICU Beds Doesn’t Always Mean More Hospitalizations
In general, it’s safe to assume that a drop in available ICU beds correlates with more more ICU beds being occupied, but not always. Please note that maximum number of potential ICU beds on a per region or county basis is not shared by the state of California and that potential ICU bed numbers can change depending on staffing and the ability to convert “normal” beds into ICU beds which is a common practice when overflow is needed. So without the state providing more detailed statistics and data on what it considers an “available” bed to be, in some cases it’s unclear if a drop in the number ICU beds available is the result of more hospitalizations, temporary ICU beds being converted back into regular beds and taken “offline,” or a combination of both.

In addition the Bay Area has 375 potential hospital beds not included in the above numbers that are considered “warm” and ready to be activated quickly in case of an emergency surge (125 in San Francisco in The Presidio and 250 in Richmond at the Craneway Pavilion)

When is a Regional “Stay at Home” Order Supposed to End?
Here’s what the state of California says are the criteria for determining when a region can exit the stay-at-home order, but to our knowledge the state has not provided any specific stats or backup to determine the numbers below or to understand exactly how the projections are made.

After three weeks from the start of the Regional Stay Home Order in the region, one of two situations would occur:

  • The order will end in a region if the region’s ICU capacity projected out four weeks (from day 22 after the Regional Stay Home Order started in the region) is above or equal to 15%. Each county in the region will then be assigned to a tier based on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and the rules of the Blueprint will apply again.
  • The order will remain in effect in a region if its ICU capacity projected out four weeks (from day 22 after the Regional Stay Home Order started in the region) is less than 15%. The order will remain in effect until the region’s projected ICU capacity is equal or greater than 15%. This would be assessed approximately twice a week.

According to the state of California’s COVID dashboard, as of 1/5/21 the Bay Area has ICU availability of 3.5%, but the state has not provided actual data backup for exactly how this number is calculated or the exact county-by-county breakdown, or the total number of ICU beds a county is considered having which can change daily depending on staffing and the ability to convert normal beds into ICU beds.

As of 1/5/21 San Francisco reports its ICU capacity 33%.


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