By CBS13 Staff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new public health order requires hospitals in counties where ICU capacity is dwindling to delay non-essential surgeries.

The health order requires non-essential and non-life-threatening surgeries to be delayed in counties with less than 10% ICU capacity where the regional ICU capacity is 0%.

ICU capacity is 0% in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions. Both San Joaquin and Stanislaus County are impacted by the order.

In Los Angeles, hospitals are making difficult decisions regarding who to treat. In San Joaquin County, ICUs are overflowing double their typical size, and some fear the worst is ahead.

READ MORE: Local Health Officials Fear Worst For Area Hospitals: ‘I Hope We Don’t Get There’

Officials say emergency surgeries, surgeries to remove cancer, or heart surgery will continue while procedures like carpal tunnel release and non-urgent spine surgeries should be delayed. The order will remain in effect for at least three weeks.

Over the past two weeks, the state says hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have increased by 17% and ICU admission increased by 21%.

Statewide, the order also requires hospitals to accept patient transfers from facilities that have “implemented contingency or crisis care guidelines as long as those transfers can be done capably and safely.”

“When hospitals are overwhelmed and overflowing, they are no longer able to provide the traditional standards of care we expect, but if health care resources are available elsewhere, we should ensure Californians can receive appropriate care,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer.

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