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State imposes strict pandemic measures for Southern California

The region's intensive care unit capacity dropped below 15 percent, triggering stricter measures.
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Southern California will come under stricter pandemic safety measures after its intensive care unit capacity dropped to dangerous levels because of the national spike in coronavirus cases, state health officials said Saturday.

The California Department of Public Health said the region's ICU capacity had dropped to 12.5 percent, the second day it was below a trigger for stricter measures announced Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom: 15 percent. The San Joaquin Valley region also dipped below the threshold.

The regional order will begin Sunday at 11:59 p.m. and remain in effect for at least three weeks, health officials said.

Many of the 20 million people who live in Southern California will likely see few real-life changes. Los Angeles County has already imposed some of the state's strictest measures, including takeout and delivery only for eateries and 20 percent capacity at essential retail establishments.

The region comprises the counties of Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

California has had 19,791 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began, state officials said.