SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – We’re following up with the California Department of Public Health and Governor Gavin Newsom after both stopped providing daily regional ICU capacity percentages to the public.
The administration has been using the number to decide whether regions remain under stay at home orders.
Before Friday, it had been a week since California health leaders last provided specific ICU capacity percentages, the key data point Newsom’s administration has said would help determine which regions remain under his mandated stay at home order.
State leaders have said regions with projected ICU capacity greater than 15% would be eligible to get out of the order.
All week, the state would not provide the numbers, only writing in email updates vaugely saying three regions: the Bay Area, Southern California and San Joaquin Valley remain under the order, their four week ICU capacity projections do not meet criteria to exit.
After the order was suddenly lifted from the greater Sacramento region last week, Capitol bureau reporter Ashley Zavala asked the recently appointed director of California’s Department of Public Health why the state stopped updating the numbers regularly.
He would not say specifically why, but went on to list off all the ways ICU capacity data is being used.
“We realize that we’re confusing people more by putting all these metrics up there, so we’re coming up with a way, a sheet that explains ICU capacity is used. I hope that explains most of it, because it took me several weeks just to understand it,” Dr. Tomas Aragon, director of CDPH, said.
Now a week after this interview, we still haven’t seen an explanation.
“It just embodies so many things that have gone wrong with our COVID-19 response,” Assemblyman Kevin Kiley said. “You have a constantly shifting set of metrics, and really an insult to the public saying oh this is too confusing for you to understand.”
Zavala: “I’m wondering if there is any kind of legislative effort to possibly have an oversight hearing or possibly something of that nature?”
Kiley: “I’m now finally hearing talk of something like that being put together, but that’s still in talks..I’ve been arguing since the very beginning that the legislature needs to be a coequal partner.”
We reached out to the governor’s office on Friday for comment but have not heard back.