Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday urged Californians to be vigilant in following coronavirus guidelines as the state experienced its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases for the second straight day.
The number of new cases hit 7,149 on Tuesday, by far the most recorded in California in a single day since the pandemic began, the governor said at a morning news conference.
The new record came just one day after California reached 5,109 new cases, the first time the Golden State reported a daily total of 5,000 positive tests.
“Just in the last few days, those numbers have increased some 69%,” Newsom said.
Additionally, the state has seen an uptick of coronavirus-related hospitalizations, with a 29% rise in the past four days. During that same period, the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to the intensive care has climbed 18%.
The state is still ready to meet the capacity, as health officials have been preparing for the possibility of a massive increase in hospitalizations for months now, Newsom emphasized. California has identified more than 52,000 hospital beds that can be utilized as part of the state’s surge capacity, and there are also more than 11,000 ventilators available.
He noted that the state is also conducting a record number of tests daily, with nearly 96,000 performed in the past 24 hours.
The positivity rate — that is, the total number of positive tests versus the number of people who were tested — has dropped to 5.1%. At one point, when testing was first ramping up in April and limited primarily to those with symptoms, the average was about 40%.
Newsom expects that rate to increase due to more areas of the economy reopening, as well as large-scale protests in recent weeks over racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis officers.
“As we begun to meaningfully reopen the economy, we also had some important milestones, Memorial Day, roughly a month or so ago, started experiencing demonstrations and protest roughly two and a half, three weeks ago. So, we should start anticipating — one would assume, can anticipate — an increase of the positivity rate as we do more and more testing throughout the state,” he said.
The governor also said many people have become complacent in following certain statewide guidelines, such as the use of face masks, which are now required by the state in most situations.
“Wear a mask. I cannot impress that upon you enough, again not only for yourself but for others so we can mitigate the spread of this disease,” Newsom said.
In addition to facial coverings, the governor also reminded everyone of the importance of avoiding large crowds and maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from others, when possible outside the home.
This is particularly important when mixing with others outside your household, including other relatives.
“As much as you want to bring the entire family over for a family reunion, people traveling from other states or other parts of this state, do so cautiously and eyes wide open,” he said.
And if numbers continue to increase dramatically, some parts of the state could be forced to toggle back on phased reopenings.
In his coronavirus briefing on Monday, the governor indicated that he wouldn’t hesitate to implement new restrictions in problematic areas to help prevent the virus’ spread.
San Bernardino and Riverside counties are among the areas on the state’s radar in terms of places of concerns, as is L.A. County due to its size, scope and scale, according to Newsom.
All three counties have reported a recent surge in coronavirus cases, with L.A. County regularly seeing more than 2,000 positive tests daily — by far the highest number in the state.
“We’re still in the first wave, we’re not in a second wave,” Newsom said. “We’ll get through this. There will be a vaccine. We will get to a point where we can substantially go back to the way things were with modifications, so we never go through this again.”