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California stay-at-home orders, curfew lifted

the Associated Press
Taft Midway Driller

California has lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide in response to improving coronavirus conditions.

Public health officials said Monday the state will return to a system of county-by-county restrictions intended to stem the spread of the virus. The state is also lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

The decision comes with improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care unit capacity as well as vaccinations. The lifting of the order is based on projections that the state says show improving ICU conditions, but officials have not disclosed the data behind the forecasts.

“Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner,” Dr. Tomas Aragon, the state’s public health director, said in a statement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to address the public later Monday.

The decision comes with improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care unit capacity as well as vaccinations.

Newsom imposed the stay-at-home order in December as coronavirus cases worsened. Under the system, a multi-county region had to shut down most businesses and order people to stay home if ICU capacity dropped below 15%. An 11-county Northern California region was never under the order. The Greater Sacramento Region exited the order last week. The state makes the decisions based on four-week projections showing ICU capacity improving, but officials have not disclosed the data behind the forecasts.

During the weekend, San Francisco Bay Area ICU capacity surged to 23% while the San Joaquin Valley increased to 1.3%, its first time above zero. The huge Southern California region, the most populous, remains at zero ICU capacity.

Early last year, the state developed a system of color-coded tiers that dictated the level of restrictions on businesses and individuals based on virus conditions in each of California’s 58 counties. Most counties will now go back to the most restrictive purple tier, which allows for outdoor dining, hair and nail salons to be open, and outdoor church services. Bars that only serve beverages cannot be open.

The county-by-county tier system uses various metrics to determine the risk of community transmission and apply a color code — purple, red, orange or yellow — which correspond to widespread, substantial, moderate and minimal, respectively.

As of the weekend, California has had more than 3.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 36,790 deaths, according to the state’s public health website.