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On Tuesday, California lifted the stay-at-home order in effect for the 13 county Sacramento region. The 13-county region was placed under the order on Dec. 10.
Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom originally divided California into five regions in December and imposed the stay-at-home order in four of the regions. Only rural, Northern California was exempt from the order.
The Sacramento region's ICU capacity is at 9.4 percent, but is projected to rise above the mandated 15 percent threshold for removing the order in the next four weeks.
Newsom said in a Twitter video that the order which banned gatherings, shuttered restaurants, churches, outdoor gatherings and closed many businesses has been lifted effective immediately.
Newsom tweeted, "Hospitalization growth rates have slowed. ICU & positivity rates are stabilizing. Today, the Sacramento region is coming out of the Regional Stay-at-Home Order. Hopeful signs—but we must approach them cautiously. Wear a mask. Be safe. Avoid gathering."
Though the stay-at-home order is lifted, the counties will still be under some of the most restrictive orders in the country that still limit most business activity and personal gatherings.
The counties, including Sacramento, can now resume outdoor dining and religious services, re-open hair and nail salons, increase retail capacity and allow gatherings of up to three households.
Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley remain under the original order. On Tuesday, California surpassed 30,000 COVID deaths. According to state health officials, hospitals in Southern California and the Central Valley are stretched thin. Meanwhile, the state is attempting to meet a goal of distributing a million vaccine doses over the next 10 days.
According to ABC 7, the announcement that Sacramento's order would be lifted "caused confusion for several hours Tuesday as county officials began announcing the news but the state remained silent." Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's secretary of health and human services, indicated in a briefing that some regions could be out from under the order soon but made no official announcement. Newsom finally shared the news in a Twitter video as early evening approached.
State officials have said the stay-at-home orders were helping, but some observers questioned their true effect. Dr. Brad Pollock, associate dean for public health sciences at the UC Davis School of Medicine told ABC 7, "What the stay-at-home orders were meant to do is keep families that don't live together separated. Instead, over the last few months, you've had people getting together.
"You've had small social gatherings indoors. I wouldn't say the stay-at-home orders have been futile, but they probably haven't had a huge impact on what's actually happened with the transmission patterns. That's pretty evident, since the numbers went up.''
Newsom's orders have been criticized by many including residents and lawmakers, especially exemptions for Hollywood film and TV production, while forcing other businesses to close.
Newsom is now facing a recall effort that recently passed one million signatures and has received significant financial backing.