Experiencing a ballooning of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced that he was pulling an “emergency brake” to slow the spread of the virus, forcing the vast majority of the state to return back to the state’s most restrictive tier in its reopening plan.
When the changes go into effect on Tuesday, 41 counties — where 94% of Californians live — will now be placed under the state’s purple tier restrictions — up from just 13 of the state’s 58 counties last week. The move from the state’s red tier down to the most-restrictive purple tier will completely shutter indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and places of worship in those counties.
In the Bay Area, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Napa and Solano counties will revert to the purple tier, while San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties will move back into the red tier, the second-most restrictive.
“In nearly every part of the state we are seeing case rates increase and transmission rates increase. No longer is it concentrated in a handful of counties,” Newsom said during a news briefing Monday. “We are seeing community spread broadly across the entire state.”
The governor also added that officials were assessing the possibility of a future curfew order.
Newsom said officials were “sounding the alarm” due to an unprecedented uptick in COVID-19 cases.
“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,” he said.
As of Monday, California has recorded more than 1 million cases of coronavirus. In the past two weeks, the average number of cases reported each day has nearly doubled — a 91% increase from about 4,162 per day at the start of November — and the number of patients hospitalized has increased by nearly 50%.
The number of patients hospitalized due to the virus has grown to more than 3,600 while the number of new cases has reached its highest point since Aug. 17, an average of about 7,967 per day over the past week, according to data compiled by this news organization.
“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.”
The governor’s announcement comes less than two weeks before Thanksgiving — a holiday traditionally marked by large gatherings that officials fear could accelerate the spread of the virus if celebrated as usual. California officials are urging those who travel out of the state for the holiday later this month to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
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