An estimated 94% of Californians, or approximately 37 million people, now reside in areas under the state’s most restrictive reopening tier as rollbacks in several counties took effect on Tuesday.
According to the Los Angeles Times coronavirus tracker, California logged 13,412 new cases on Monday after Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom announced government officials were “pulling the emergency brake” in an attempt to slow COVID-19 transmission. It was the highest daily total in the state since the pandemic started.
Due to the alarming increases we are seeing in #COVID19 cases, CA is pulling an emergency brake.
To slow the spread, 41 counties —94% of California’s population —
will now be in purple, the most restrictive tier.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 16, 2020
Earlier in the day, Newsom indicated 41 of the state’s 58 counties had been categorized in the strictest “purple” stage of the four-tiered monitoring system — up from 13 counties last week. They include the most populous county in the nation, Los Angeles, along with San Diego, Alameda, and Orange counties. San Francisco recently fell into the red category, which is the second-most severe.
These maps show how the Bay Area and California reversed course on reopening to control a surge of new coronavirus infections. Many counties have moved back into the most restrictive purple tier.
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) November 17, 2020
The Times reports that the tier system is based on the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 residents and the percentage of positive tests.
“We are sounding the alarm,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet – faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”
Newsom said the number of cases had increased 51% in the past ten days, while hospitalizations were up 48%.
“The data we are seeing is very concerning,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “We are in the midst of a surge, and time is of the essence. Every day matters and every decision matters.”
— Robert Gauthier (@rgaut999) November 12, 2020
“Personal decisions are critical, and I am imploring every Californian to stay home if they can, wear a mask whenever they leave their homes, limit mixing, practice physical distancing and wash their hands,” Dr. Ghaly continued.
As the L.A. Times reports, Newsom said state authorities were also considering a curfew, and:
Among the counties in the purple tier, California officials require that the following types of indoor settings be closed to the public: restaurant dining rooms, gyms, dance and yoga studios, movie theaters, museums, zoos and aquariums. Houses of worship can no longer hold in-person services indoors, and most retail stores, indoor malls and libraries can only open to 25% capacity; grocery stores are allowed to open to 50% capacity.
Monday’s announcement comes amid the steepest rise in coronavirus cases that California has seen. Over the seven-day period that ended Sunday, the state averaged 7,985 cases per day, a rate that has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, according to data compiled by The Times.
The rolling metric hasn’t been that high since mid-August, and it is a far cry from just a month ago, when the seven-day average of new cases dipped below 3,000.
Gov. Newsom has recently faced criticism for failing to comply with the California Department of Public Health guidelines that say “gatherings that include more than 3 households are prohibited.” A report from the San Francisco Chronicle published last week revealed Newsom had taken part in a multi-family birthday party at a ritzy restaurant in Napa Valley earlier this month. According to the Chronicle, at least 12 people attended the celebration. While Newsom declined to specify how many households were present, he “did not dispute that it was more than three,” the report said.
“I want to apologize to you, because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I’ve done my best to do that,” Gov. Newsom said during Monday’s news conference. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.”
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