California health officials said the number of available ICU beds continues to drop in the San Francisco Bay Area, down to 6.3% capacity Friday. That's leading many Bay Area health experts to say a stay-at-home order initially set to expire next week will likely be extended, CBS SF Bay Area reports. San Francisco has already done so.
The possibility of a prolonged ban on outdoor dining is worrying a lot of restaurant operators. The owner of Mexico Tipico in Union City invested thousands of dollars on his outdoor setup and heat lamps. He was hoping to use them again next week.
"All the restaurants in this area are affected 'cause there's no business now," said Ricardo Soto, who manages Mexico Tipico. "The families coming down want to enjoy food at the table not take it to-go."
Soto said an extension of the ban on outdoor dining could lead to more layoffs at his restaurant but several restaurateurs said they're not surprised at the prospect of an extension.
"We pivoted so many times that I'm tired of pivoting. I feel like I'm falling down," said Eric Nielsen, a business partner at two downtown San Jose restaurants. "We are worried. Again, this feels indefinite. Even if we are open at the end of February, what does that look like? Like, are we actually open for outdoor dining again? And if we are, I'm hoping the public comes out again."
San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa said he feels for the small businesses but he said ICU capacity is dire and that's what the state looks at when imposing the health order.
"Right now, we're in life-saving mode, make no mistake about it. So the actions that we take today are really going to make sure that we're protected in the future," Canepa said.
The supervisor said that about 5% of the county's ICU beds are currently available. He's urging the county's health department to extend the health order and follow San Francisco's lead.
"We're not even calculating the Dec. 25 numbers, the Christmas numbers and, on top of that, the New Year numbers," supervisor Canepa said.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UCSF, said hospitals will likely see more COVID patients in the coming days because of holiday gatherings.
"It's inevitable that we'll have a surge (caused by the Thanksgiving holiday) on top of a surge (because of Christmas) on top of a surge (from illegal New Year's Eve parties). If you look at the travel around Christmas for example, it actually exceeded Thanksgiving, which was already the highest travel period for the year," Dr. Chin-Hong said.
He said the number of COVID patients should come down by the end of January.