3 counties want out of Southern California virus ICU region

California

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Three counties northwest of Los Angeles want to be separated from the state-designated Southern California region for determining the extent of pandemic restrictions based on the availability of intensive care unit beds.

Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties plan to seek approval to create a smaller Central Coast region if the tri-county ICU capacity exceeds 15% in the next three weeks, the counties said in a statement Monday.

At that point, the three counties will ask to be assessed on the tri-county ICU capacity and not overall Southern California region capacity.

“We believe it’s reasonable to have the Central Coast as one region instead of including our county with over half the state’s population in the current Southern California Region,” Ventura County Executive Officer Mike Powers said in a statement.

Last week, amid a huge surge of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom divided the state into five regions to use intensive care unit capacity in each region as a trigger for widespread closures, setting a 15% threshold that occurred during the weekend.

The 11-county Southern California region includes Los Angeles County, where public health officials say the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has surpassed all-time highs every day since Dec. 1.

“We’re really distraught that we’re being lumped in with Southern California where they have more severe problems than we have,” Lynn Compton, chair of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, said in an interview.

In Los Angeles County, where gatherings are banned under public health orders, 158 people were arrested at an illegal house party Saturday, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said last week that since March he focused on educating people about virus-related restrictions, but now will crack down on “super-spreader events.”

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