Virus update: December 5, 2020 -- Pandemic overwhelming medical system

MERCED (BLJ) -- As predicted, the virus is getting out of control here in Merced, there in California, and everywhere in the nation.

Locally, Merced County Public Health Department reports 11.2  positivity rate in the seven-day average, and 191 deaths (increase of five in a day). Merced County population is 275,000 and population density is 143 people per square mile.

By contrast, the City and County of San Francisco has 164 deaths, It's population is 881,500 and its population density is 17,160 people per square mile.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          


December 5, 2020


Regional Stay Home Order Effective for the San Joaquin Valley

Restaurants, Hair Salons, and Other Businesses to Return to More Protective Guidelines to Reduce Spread of COVID-19


SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY REGION – Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all sectors other than retail and essential operations will close in regions of the State where less than 15 percent of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are available under a new Regional Stay Home Order. As of today, Regional ICU capacity has fallen below 15% available capacity, applying the Regional Stay Home Order to all counties in the San Joaquin Valley Region, effective Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 11:59 pm. The new Regional Order is a protective measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 and support the most vulnerable community members and hospital frontline workers.


The Regional Stay Home Order will be in effect for at least 3 weeks and urges Californians to stay at home as much as possible to limit the mixing with other households that can lead to COVID-19 spread. It allows access to (and travel for) critical services and allows outdoor activities to preserve Californians’ physical and mental health. This limited closure will help stop the surge and prevent overwhelming regional ICU capacity.


“We are at a point where surging cases and hospitalizations are not letting up. These protective measures require all of us to take action and be diligent. I can’t emphasize this enough – everyone must take personal steps to protect themselves and protect others,” said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Merced County’s Public Health Officer.


“We know that people are tired of the stringent measures, but they are the only weapons we have to combat the virus. Now, more than ever, we need San Joaquin Valley residents to step up and take these actions seriously - wash hands, wear a face covering, limit gatherings, get tested and socially distance,” said Dr. Maggie Park, San Joaquin County Public Health Officer.


"Our mountain communities rely on the region for ICU-level care for COVID and other serious medical conditions, transferring our sickest to hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley. These hospitals are stretched to capacity. It is crucial that each one of us does our part to decrease the transmission of COVID. Our collective actions will make a difference!" Dr. Eric Sergienko, Mariposa County Health Officer and Acting Health Officer for Tuolumne County.


“Our only hospital in San Benito County is completely full. This is an alarming situation that could get much worse. We can only get through this if we work together. Please follow our advice to keep yourself, your family and your neighbor’s safe,” says Dr. David Ghilarducci, San Benito Public Health Officer.


“Home for the holidays takes on a new meaning this year. We acknowledge that this order will change what the holiday season traditionally looks like for families. We are asking you to protect the vulnerable in your family and in your community by taking the order seriously and staying home,” said Dr. Simon Paul, Madera County Public Health Officer.


“COVID-19 continues to spread at alarming rates in Tulare County, and most concerning are the number of people needing to be hospitalized for COVID-19. It is imperative we take these protective actions in order to not overwhelm our local hospitals. The measures we all need to take is to avoid any gatherings outside our household, wear a face covering, social distance, and wash our hands. These are vital to decrease transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer.


For more information on the Regional Stay Home Order on the State’s website at




Regional Stay Home Order FAQ


Due to the activation of the Regional Stay Home Order, the following sectors have until December 6, 2020 at 11:59pm to close operations:

Indoor and outdoor playgrounds

Indoor recreational facilities

Hair salons and barbershops

Personal care services

Museums, zoos, and aquariums

Movie theaters


Bars, breweries, and distilleries

Family entertainment centers

Cardrooms and satellite wagering

Limited services

Live audience sports

Amusement parks


The following sectors will have additional modifications in addition to 100% masking and physical distancing:

Outdoor recreational facilities: Allow outdoor operation only without any food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.

Retail: Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.

Shopping centers: Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.

Hotels and lodging: Allow to open for critical infrastructure support only.

Restaurants: Allow only for take-out, pick-up, or delivery.

Offices: Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.

Places of worship and political expression: Allow outdoor services only.

Entertainment production including professional sports: Allow operation without live audiences. Additionally, testing protocol and “bubbles” are highly encouraged.


The following sectors are allowed to remain open when a remote option is not possible with appropriate infectious disease preventative measures including 100% masking and physical distancing:

Critical infrastructure

Schools (Schools that are currently open are able to continue to provide in-person instruction on school sites.)

Non-urgent medical and dental care

Childcare and pre-K


For more information on the Regional Stay Home Order on the State’s website at