California’s stay-at-home order will indefinitely remain in effect for Sacramento County and 12 other counties in the Greater Sacramento region while COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise. State public health officials on Jan. 2 announced that the order was extended, due to a four-week projection that estimates the region’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity will fall below 15%.

They reported that the Greater Sacramento region had a 6.9% ICU capacity, as of Jan. 2. This is a drop from the region’s 11.1% capacity that was reported on Jan. 1, according to California’s Department of Public Health. The state on Jan. 3 reported that the region’s ICU capacity returned to 10.3%.

As of press time, the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions reportedly had zero ICU capacity, while the Bay Area and Northern California regions respectively had 8.4% and 35.5% capacities.

The stay-at-home order for the Greater Sacramento region has been in effect since Dec. 10 and it was initially scheduled to expire on Jan. 1. State public health officials did not announce the expiration date for the recently extended order.

On New Year’s Day, state public health officials collected the Greater Sacramento region’s data on matters such as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, current COVID-19 case rates, and current ICU capacity. They then made a four-week projection on whether the region’s ICU capacity will exceed 15%. Regions that are projected to meet that criteria are eligible to have their stay-at-home order lifted.

In Sacramento County, 467 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized and 103 of them were placed in ICUs, as of Jan. 1, according to the county’s public health staff. The ICU number slightly dropped from its peak at 110 cases on Dec. 19.

Since March 2020, Sacramento County had 65,245 cases and 857 deaths, as of Dec. 31. The county’s public health staff estimated that 49,639 of the cases “likely recovered,” or 21 days had passed since they were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Elk Grove experienced an increase of 2,353 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths between Dec. 7, which was before the stay-at-home order went into effect, and Dec. 28. According to the county’s public health data, the city on Dec. 28 had 6,917 cases and 69 deaths since March. On Dec. 7, Elk Grove had 4,564 cases and 58 deaths since March when the county started reporting COVID-19 cases.

The stay-at-home order

Under the stay-at-home order for the Greater Sacramento region, residents are discouraged from leaving their homes for non-essential activities or travel. Businesses such as barbershops, hair salons, bars, personal care services, and family entertainment centers must close. Restaurants are only allowed to offer takeout or deliveries, and retails can operate at a 20% capacity with the exception of grocery stores that can have a 35% capacity.

Schools must be closed unless their reopening plans were approved by local county public health officials last fall. A few private schools in the Elk Grove area such as Bradshaw Christian School and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School were allowed to reopen in September. The Elk Grove Unified School District continues to keep their 67 campuses closed while their students take online classes or other forms of distance learning.

Last month, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones announced that he would not have his agency enforce the COVID-related orders, due to a lack of sufficient personnel to enforce them. Elk Grove Police Chief Tim Albright last November said that the Elk Grove police will continue providing an educational approach regarding the state’s COVID-19 orders.