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Christmas Fair still on but on 48 hour notice. . .
Gov. Newsom

The San Joaquin Valley — including Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop — could literally be hours away from going into a much tighter COVID-19 shutdown based on the diminishing availability of ICU beds.

And because businesses and local jurisdictions will be given 48 hours to meet the tighter requirements once ICU bed capacity in the 12-county region lumped together as the San Joaquin Valley dips below 15 percent, that means there is still a window to do things such as legally get your hair cut

The 12-county region being labeled as the San Joaquin Valley for triggering regional shutdowns collectively had remaining ICU capacity at 19.70 percent on Wednesday. That compares to 18.60 percent for Northern California, 20.60 percent for Southern California, 22.20 percent for the Greater Sacramento area, and 25.30 percent for the Bay Area.

Statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have risen almost 90 percent in recent weeks.

“This is not a permanent state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday. “This is what we predicted. This is the final surge of the pandemic. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Newsom’s latest order now restricts all non-essential travel statewide.

If and when the San Joaquin Valley drops below 15 percent ICU capacity it will trigger a three-week lockdown that prohibits residents from gathering. If implemented, essential businesses such as grocery stores must operate at 20% capacity; bars, wineries salons and restaurant dining have to shut down while take-out and delivery will still be allowed; and hotels can only be open for critical infrastructure support. the shutdown would also involve playgrounds, salons, barbershops, movie theaters and such.

Should the shutdown by region start in as little as one or two days as Newsom anticipates, Christmas will take place in a lockdown in the San Joaquin Valley. It could also extend into New Year’s Day and beyond.

It also means the last Christmas event in Manteca that may take place that is anywhere close to being normal is the Christmas at the Promenade that takes place this afternoon and evening as well as Saturday. The Christmas fair staged by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce has 47 vendors as well as food trucks with social distancing protocols and beyond what is required by the county.

As far as the Dec. 12 Christmas parade is concerned, Chamber Executive Director Joann Beattie said the organization is moving forward but if conditions deteriorate it may not happen.

California reported in excess of 20,000 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. That topped the previous record of 18.350 new cases a week ago. San Joaquin County had 107 new cases on Wednesday compared to 93 a week prior. The biggest peak days since summer were 480 new cases on Nov. 23 and 328 new cases on Nov. 30.

There are 1,891 active cases currently in San Joaquin County with 522 deaths to date.

San Joaquin County on its own has already exceeded the 15 percent remaining capacity bench mark and is at 113 percent of capacity as of Thursday. That means non-licensed ICU beds have been converted for use.

Kaiser Hospital Manteca is at 100 percent ICU capacity with all six beds in use while Doctors Hospital of Manteca ICU capacity is at 75 percent with six beds in use. San Joaquin General is the most impacted hospital in the county with the ICU at 181 percent capacity with 29 patients. COVID patients account for 46 of the 112 ICU patients countywide.

San Joaquin County’s fate is being aggregated with ICU space availability with that in the counties of Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Kings, Merced, Madera, Kern, Fresno, Mariposa, Tulare, Calaveras, and San Benito.


Protocols in place

for Christmas Fair

tonight & Saturday

Christmas at the Promenade today and Saturday is surpassing San Joaquin County Health Department requirements to address COVID-19 related concerns.

The event that takes places on the corner of Atherton Drive and Union Road in The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley parking lot near JC Penney is today, Dec. 4, from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.                        

There are 47 vendors — primarily arts and crafts — along with food trucks. Given San Joaquin County has slipped back into the purple tier, the petting zoo and children’s rides have been dropped.

Santa will be there with a Plexiglas safety shield in place. There also will be decorated Christmas trees  that are part of a contest you can vote on as your favorites.

The chamber besides meeting and exceeding county COVID-19 guidelines has obtained all required city permits.

To assure maximum separation, the chamber is securing off 87,000 square feet with a temporary fence.

Such an outdoor area under normal circumstances allow upwards of 6,000 people.

County pandemic guidelines now in affect based on 87,000 square feet would cap the number of attendees out at 25 percent or 1,500. The chamber — to assure maximum safety and maximum comfort of those attending — is capping the number of people allowed inside the fenced off area at 7 percent or 425 people at any given time.

Everyone entering must pass a touchless temperature check and be wearing a mask. It is mandatory the mask be on at all times inside the fence area except when eating or taking a sip of a drink.

Besides volunteers, the chamber has hired security — which is not a requirement — to make sure the mask mandate and social distancing are followed and to assure general overall safety.

There will be hand sanitizers at every booth, the entrance, and by the restrooms.

Due to the purple tier rules there will be no chairs or tables anywhere to sit down and eat items obtained from the food trucks.

The weather is cooperating based on the National Weather Service forecast. Both days will have clear skies. Tonight’s low is expected to drop to 47 degrees and the Saturday high will be 65 degrees with a low of 37 degrees.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email