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Fatigued Californians are Back in Lockdown. Will it Work?

California has enacted new stay-at-home guidelines as coronavirus cases in the state have surged. Dr. Marta Induni, program director of PHI’s Tracing Health program, says the shelter in place order is the one possible solution to the COVID-19 surge.

  • The Guardian

California has enacted new stay-at-home guidelines as coronavirus cases in the state have surged, placing 33m pandemic-fatigued residents under some of the harshest restrictions in the US in a last-resort effort to rein in the pandemic.

The measures are the strictest since those enacted in March, when California’s early, aggressive lockdown helped keep the state’s death rate relatively low. Nine months on, however, a worn-out public seems less willing to comply with shelter-in-place and many workers – devastated by the economic toll of the pandemic – are unable to do so.

How bad is the surge?

It’s bad. In Los Angeles, hospitals are expected to overflow by Christmas. In southern California, only 12.5% of ICU beds remain available. In the San Joaquin Valley, just 8.6% of ICU beds are open. The state has tallied more than 1.3m cases, the state broke a record on Friday with more than 25,000 in a single day.

Activities that were considered low- or medium-risk this summer – such as outdoor recreation and dining – are now much riskier, because a larger proportion of people in any context could be carrying the disease.

Marta Induni
We’re seeing the healthcare system become overwhelmed right now. We’re seeing an exponential increase – and when there’s just so much of the virus around, the risk of infection everywhere is higher. That leaves us with only one possible solution – asking everyone to stay at home, shelter in place.

Dr. Marta Induni, program director, Tracing Health

Will it Work?

In Europe, a second set of lockdowns this autumn seems to be slowing infection rates. California’s approach could help the state reset, with blunt measures helping to convey just how serious this latest wave of infection isWith ICU beds filling up with Covid-19 patients, it’s the only option in regions that simply have no hospital capacity to treat more sick patients.

The lockdown could also be an opportunity to “start over”, Induni said, and allow officials to devise better plans and messaging around mask mandates and provide social support for essential workers who cannot stay home.

But compliance will be key, and nine months into the pandemic, Californians are less likely to adhere to a strict lockdown. Despite changing rules and restrictions, the share of Californians who have met with people outside their household has remained steady for months, at around 35 to 45%, per surveys conducted by the University of Southern California.

Click below to read the full story in The Guardian.

Originally published by The Guardian

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