Still no explanation why state not providing ICU capacity percentages

State News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — Before Friday, it had been a week since California health leaders last provided specific ICU capacity percentages—- the key data point Governor Gavin 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 percent would be eligible to get out of the order, but all week the state would not provide the numbers, only writing in email updates vaguely saying three regions — the Bay Area, Southern California and San Joaquin Valley — remain under the order and that 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, I asked the recently appointed director of California’s Department of Public Health, Tomas Aragon, 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 how ICU capacity (is) used. I hope that explains most of it, because it took me several weeks just to understand it,” Aragon 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,” said Assemblyman Kevin Riley. “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.”

I’m wondering if there is any kind legislative effort to possibly have an oversight hearing or possibly something of that nature. 

“I’m now finally hearing talk of something like that being put together, but that’s still in talks,” Riley said. “I’ve been arguing since the very beginning that the legislature needs to be a coequal partner.”

I reached out to the governor’s office Friday for comment but have not heard back.

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