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ICU bed capacity slips below 15%, will trigger SJ Valley shutdowns
Neil hafley masks
Neil Hafley School staff — as well as the rest of the Manteca Unified community — is following mandatory mask requirements.

The order to shutdown San Joaquin County — and the rest of the 11-county San Joaquin Valley — is now hours away.

The available ICU bed count for the San Joaquin Valley region dipped below 15 percent Friday evening to 14.1 percent capacity. Under orders issued Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom a region has 48 hours to comply with much more restrictive COVID-19 measures. It had been at 19.70 percent on Wednesday.

That means by Monday for a minimum of three weeks  which goes through at least three days after Christmas among the things you will see:

*A return to lines outside of heavily trafficked stores such as supermarkets as store capacity will be slashed from 50 percent of just a week ago to 20 percent.

*Cities will be required to close down playgrounds. When that happened in March, the City of Manteca removed basketball rims from city parks.

*Restaurants will only be allowed to sell take-out and delivery. All outdoor dining will be banned.

*Barbershops, hair salons, movie theaters, and such will close.

*Hotels can be open but only to house people involved with critical infrastructure support and not to support recreational travel.

Also under Newsom’s new orders issued earlier this week non-essential travel is barred and face masks are mandatory in almost all outside settings with few specific exceptions. That is in addition to the 10 p.m. curfew.

Southern California is also facing a tighter lockdown Monday as that region’s remaining ICU capacity dropped to 13.1 percent. It was at 20.60 percent just 48 hours earlier.

Also slipping was the Greater Sacramento Area that went from 22.20 percent on Wednesday to 21.40 percent on Friday as well as the Bay Area that went from 25.30 percent to 21.2 percent.   Improving slightly was Northern California that went from 18.60 percent up to 20.9 percent.

The San Joaquin Valley consists of Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne counties.

San Joaquin County by itself has exceeded its licensed ICU bed capacity and is now at 113 percent.
The rolling increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in San Joaquin County was up 40 percent for the previous seven days on Thursday compared to 40 percent on Friday. However, the COVID-19 related admissions for the past 24 hours were up 5 percent on Friday compared to 3 percent on Thursday.

That reflects 8 more COVID-19 patients in the county’s seven hospitals in a day’s time bring the coronavirus patient count up to 177 on Friday.

The number of COVID patients in ICU dropped two to 46. That, however, is only half the story. There are 42 ICU beds in use with 41 percent of them occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The same number of ICU beds were in use at both Kaiser Manteca and Doctors Hospital of Manteca on Friday as there were on Thursday — six at each hospital. But now all patients at Kaiser in ICU are COVID-19 patients while half of the ICU patients at Doctors are COVID patients or three more all together for both hospitals than on Thursday. Kaiser’s ICU is at 100 percent capacity and Doctors at 75 percent.

There are 657 ICU beds in the San Joaquin Valley region. As of Wednesday, there were 137 available.  There were 254 ICU patients stricken with COVID-19. The bed availability dropped by more than two dozen to trigger the countdown to the tighter pandemic shutdown protocols.

The number of deaths in the county is unchanged at 522 while the number of active cases is up 20 to 2,001 in the 24-hour period. That was thanks to 42 new cases against 22 people who had tested positive that has dropped off the “active” list after 14 days.

Not everyone that tests positive for COVID-19 becomes ill.


Confirmed cases at

MUSD schools at 44

There are now 44 confirmed cases at the 33 school campuses within the Manteca Unified district based on the weekly COVID-19 dashboard update on Friday.

That is up from 22 a week ago and reflects 29 confirmed student cases and 15 staff members. That is out of a combined 27,000 students and staff members.

The confirmed cases stay on the dashboard for 14 days before they are dropped.

“We were expecting that due to the Thanksgiving break where many families were in long-term contact with other households,” noted Victoria Brunn, MUSD community outreach coordinator.

Brunn noted none of the cases were the result of exposure in a school setting. That said, Brunn noted it is inevitable that it will happen although the district is taking every step they can to make sure COVID-19 is not transmitted at school.

Under the new stricter guidelines set to go into effect Monday, schools that received waivers or have already returned and are following at least the minimum state health requirements are allowed to stay open.

However San Joaquin County health guidelines state if 5 percent of a school’s population have at least confirmed symptoms that are tied into COVID-19 cases within a rolling 14-day period, the school has to be closed.

Only one school was above 0.38 percent on Friday. That was Mossdale School with 983 students and staff members where nine students and none school staffer have tested positive. That reflects 1.02 percent of the overall school population. The trigger for a school shutdown is 5 percent.

 Those with symptoms are reflected on the Manteca Unified dashboard (accessed at for 14 days after they were first detected. That dovetails into CDC guidelines that indicated a person is no longer contagious are 14 days of the first symptom appearing.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email