- California relies on a secret formula to determine regional lockdown tiers
- The formula projects ICU capacity four weeks out using a complex model
- But state health officials say it would be too confusing to release to the public
- Sacramento residents were shocked when stay-at-home orders were lifted
- Business owners had to scramble to bring back staff at the unexpected move
- They are calling for greater transparency so they can be ready for changes
- Democrat Governor Newsom faces harsh criticism for the secrecy policy
Since early December, California has used projected regional ICU capacity as the metric used to assign lockdown tiers, issuing stay-at-home orders if capacity falls below 15 percent.
But state health officials are now saying their model is too complicated to share with the public. The bizarre situation came to light when the state suddenly lifted lockdown rules in the Greater Sacramento region last week, despite a current ICU capacity of less than 10 percent.
The state’s COVID-19 data dashboard said on Friday that the 13-county Greater Sacramento region’s ICU capacity is currently at 9 percent, but that a four-week projection of future capacity is ‘at or above threshold’, without explaining why.
Newsom, a Democrat, has long said his coronavirus policy decisions would be driven by data shared with the public to provide maximum transparency — but now faces criticism for keeping the lockdown metrics hidden from the public.