California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said a “drastic” new lockdown order might be necessary if coronavirus cases in the state continue to surge to their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.
The Democratic governor made the remarks during a press conference after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, during which some 50 million people were expected to have traveled despite tightening restrictions. Health officials have warned that more cases are likely to prop up as a result of holiday gatherings.
Newsom said officials are considering stay-home orders for areas with the highest case rates as it tries to head off concerns that severe coronavirus cases could triple hospitalizations and overwhelm intensive care beds.
"The red flags are flying in terms of the trajectory in our projections of growth," said Gov. Gavin Newsom. "If these trends continue, we're going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action."
In the past two weeks, hospitalizations have increased by 89%. As of Monday, nearly 7,800 coronavirus patients were hospitalized. About 12% of Californians testing positive are likely to need hospital care within the next two to three weeks.
“Current projections show hospitalizations could increase two to three times the current amount in one month,” Newsom said.
The biggest concern is intensive care cases, which have increased by 67% in the past two weeks. If that continues, it would push ICU beds to 112% of capacity by mid-December.
That statistic is likely to drive state-mandated stay-at-home orders in 51 of California's 58 counties that already are seeing the most restrictions on business activities, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's secretary of health and human services.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.