Earlier this week, the state surpassed 2 million confirmed cases and beds at many intensive care units are running dangerously low. In Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the virus in California, the county Department of Public Health on Thursday said around 14,000 residents were testing positive for COVID-19 each day and hospitals were admitting 1,000 new coronavirus patients daily.
As of Thursday, the state reported nearly 24,000 deaths and more than 39,000 new cases and 312 deaths in the 24-hour period since Wednesday.
One health expert called the surge a "viral tsunami," the Daily Mail reported. State leaders have reached out to Australia and Taiwan to fill 3,000 temporary healthcare work positions as hospital remain overwhelmed.
Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned that strict lockdown measures would be enacted regionally when ICU bed capacity dips under the 15% mark. Days later, Los Angeles County was put under the new lockdown orders.
The order prohibits private gatherings of any size and only critical infrastructure and retail are allowed to remain open. Bars, hair salons, barbershops, casinos, and indoor and outdoor playgrounds have been ordered to shut down. Retail stores are limited to 20% capacity and restaurants must operate for take-out and delivery only.
Residents must wear masks at all times when outside their homes and continue to physically distance themselves from others.
The problem is that many have failed to comply with the directives as people continue to gather in large groups with others outside their household. Some experts have advocated against the tough restrictions, saying officials should focus instead on those who are the most vulnerable.
"The right approach, before the vaccine, is to work to protect the elderly. Those are the people – especially living in nursing homes – are the ones who are at the highest risk of death if they were to get infected by" COVID19, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, said earlier this month.
The right policy would be to protect the elderly irrespective of where they live, older people with chronic conditions who are in the workforce and essential workers like janitors or bus drivers, he said.
"Whereas these broad lockdowns, I think they cause a lot of harm to the non-elderly. They’re not doing very much to slow the spread of the disease," he said.
World Health Organization envoy Dr. David Nabarro said such restrictive measures should only be treated as a last resort.
"We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus," Nabarro said in an interview with the British magazine the Spectator.
"I want to do laser lockdowns where we close things that are major offenders," Siegel said. "Of course, bars are a problem – in the middle of the night with people shouting and drinking and swearing at each other or whatever else you do in bars with poor ventilation. But how does that apply to outdoor restaurants with physical distancing?"
Nationwide, the virus has killed more than 320,000 people, according to The COVID tracking project.
Fox News' Bradford Betz contributed to this report.