In CA: Mandate or not, Bay Area counties to begin stay-at-home order Sunday

Winston Gieseke

Are you ready for the weekend? I sure am. Winston Gieseke here, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you the latest news in this wonderful state of ours.

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

Mandate or not, Bay Area counties to begin stay-at-home order Sunday

In a proactive move, five counties in the Bay Area announced Friday that they would impose a stay-at-home order as early as Sunday night. The reason cited is that local hospitals are already overcrowded and action needs to be taken now, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The state has said it would issue a mandatory stay-at-home order in regions where intensive care units had a capacity of only 15% remaining.

“Waiting until only 15% of a region’s ICU beds are available is just too late,” said San Francisco health officer Dr. Tomás Aragon. “Many heavily impacted parts of our region already have less than 15% of ICU beds available, and the time to act is now.”

“We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake,” concurred Santa Clara health officer Dr. Sara Cody. It’s estimated that Santa Clara County could run out of ICU beds within a week.

Closures under the order will include outdoor restaurant dining, personal care services like hair and nail salons, playgrounds, outdoor gambling and gaming facilities, outdoor museums and zoos, outdoor movie theaters, outdoor wineries and overnight campgrounds. Retail will remain open but with limited capacity.

On Sunday, the order will take hold in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties; Alameda County will follow on Monday with Marin County following on Tuesday. San Mateo, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties — the remaining counties in the Bay Area — have not (yet) joined the party.

Bay Area air quality worsens

Meanwhile, in Northern California, the air quality has worsened in parts of the East Bay and North Bay — but not due to wildfires. In fact, the smoke in the air had greatly improved since the blazes ended. Until Friday morning, that is.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District said the change in conditions across parts of the East and North Bay, which were rated as either “moderate” or “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” was likely due to pollution coming from the San Joaquin Valley and local residents’ wood-burning fireplaces, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Kristine Roselius, a spokeswoman for the air district, advised people with preexisting respiratory illnesses or other vulnerabilities to stay inside and avoid outdoor exercise. According to Roselius, air pollution from residential wood-burning fireplaces are “the No. 1 source of pollution in the Bay Area in wintertime.”

L.A. County tests at-home coronavirus screening

Remember at the beginning of the pandemic — which, I’ll be honest, feels like a gazillion ago — when it was near impossible to get a test to see whether or not you had COVID-19? Then testing sites began popping up everywhere: doctor’s offices, pharmacies, fairgrounds.

Now, Los Angeles County is making it even easier for some folk with a test you can administer at home.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the county recently launched a program in which residents with COVID-19 symptoms, those who have come in contact with a confirmed or suspected case, senior citizens, or those unable to visit a testing site can receive a free testing kit in the mail.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure testing is available to all,” said Dr. Clemens Hong of the county Department of Health Services via statement Friday. “This allows us to reach even more people — and they don’t have to risk exposing others by leaving their homes. It’s an important step for combatting the virus in L.A. County.”

County officials say qualifying individuals should receive their collection kit within two days. Testees will need to collect their sample and then drop it a FedEx drop box the same day. Results should arrive by email within two days.

The pilot program runs from now until Jan. 15. For more information, visit

Pasadena enforces mask guidelines as outdoor dining continues

Despite announcing new limits on activities Tuesday, the City of Pasadena continued to offer outdoor dining as of Thursday. What’s new, according to, is that volunteers are patrolling the streets looking for non-mask-wearers. Those who don’t have a mask will be provided with one, city officials said.

The new guidelines prohibit public and private gatherings with people outside one’s own household and limit outdoor restaurant dining to members of one’s own household.

Refusal to follow the rules could result in a citation, the report says, though it does not clarify who would be issuing the tickets.

Since Pasadena has its own health department — like the City of Long Beach — it is not subject to the laws and guidelines of Los Angeles County.

Update: Bond Fire continues to burn in Southern California

A fire that started Wednesday after a home in Silverado Canyon went up in flames exploded overnight Thursday. The Bond Fire, which has already burned more than 7,200 acres and injured two firefighters, forced 25,000 people to evacuate, according to a Fox News report Friday.

A tweet from the Orange County Fire Authority Thursday night said the fire has been 10% contained.

A smoke advisory is in effect through Friday.

Moraga man bit by coyote while doing push-ups

And finally, in animal news, Kenji Sytz, a resident of Moraga, felt a sharp pain in his leg while working out Friday morning, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. With gyms closed, he and a group of friends had found an alternate place to exercise: the Campolindo High School football field. A pair of runners had warned the men that they’d seen a coyote nearby, but none of them thought much of it.

“We see them all the time over here, out on the street. They see humans and they run off — no big deal,” Sytz said.

But when Sytz felt a sudden pain in his left leg while in a push-up position, he was shocked to see a coyote clamping down hard on his shin and calf. An attempt to scare the animal by slapping it in the face had no effect, and it took Sytz and his two buddies almost a minute to shoo the animal away.

After rolling up his pant leg and seeing deep puncture wounds and dangling fatty tissue, Sytz’s friend urged him to go to the hospital. Thankfully, Sytz said he was in good condition Friday after getting treatment — including a rabies shot — at a local hospital. Sytz, a professed outdoorsman, said the shots were scarier than the bite.

That’s all, folks. In California will be back in your inbox on Monday.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing:, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle