Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced another round of stay-at-home measures in areas of concern in the state, including throughout Southern California, as the state looks to curb transmission of the coronavirus ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.
With the state seeing a concerning rise in cases recently, 19 counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list will be required, effectively immediately, to rollback reopenings and close indoor operations for at least three weeks, Newsom said at a news briefing.
The sectors include restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms.
“We are doing everything we can to focus in on certain sectors of our economy where that spread is more likely to occur, where that spread can be potentially more concentrated, and try to mitigate that spread to the extent we can,” Newsom explained.
L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura are among the counties the mandatory order impacts. The 19 counties make up more than 70% of the state’s population of about 40 million residents, according to the governor.
Newsom also ordered beach parking lots in Southern California, the Bay Area and other parts of the state to shut down, but stopped short of mandating beach closures.
And, with a holiday weekend just days away, he said Californians should avoid crowds as well as gatherings with those outside their household.
“I can’t say this enough … one of the areas where we’re seeing an increase in transmission that’s almost universally reflected in terms of the surveys and engagements with local health officials is on family gatherings,” the governor said, noting that having people over and celebrating with others is typically a tradition for a Fourth of July weekend.
Such gatherings, though, have been a particular source of concern in fueling community spread of the virus — especially as residents reunite with loved ones and friends after months apart because of the public health emergency.
“I really cannot impress you more the tendency to invite friends, neighbors over that you haven’t seen is there,” he said. I hope you’ll reconsider those gatherings with people who you do not live with that are not in your immediate household.”
Public health officials warned that community spread of the new coronavirus puts certain populations at risk for serious illness, including seniors and individuals with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.
The governor also urged counties with mandatory closures to consider canceling fireworks shows that are a hallmark of Independence Day celebrations across the country.
He also emphasized the continued importance of wearing a facial covering, practicing social distancing and washing hands thoroughly.
Newsom’s announcement came as California documented 8,610 new cases in the past 24 hours, the second day in a row the state broke its single-day record for positive tests. That’s according to the Los Angeles Times’ coronavirus tracker, which independently surveys local health agencies and generally has a different count than official figures released by the state.
That one-day record has been broken four times in the past nine days.
California has also seen spikes in coronavirus hospitalizations and ICU patients in the past couple of weeks.
At the same time, the state’s testing positivity rate has also steadily climbed, reaching about 6% over the past two weeks.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in California have increased nearly 50% over the past two weeks. Of greater concern to officials is the steady growth in the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations — a 43% increase over the past two weeks.
In announcing the new restrictions, Newsom acknowledged the difficult of enforcing the rules. He said seven state agencies with regulatory authority would target non-compliant businesses, including the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Highway Patrol.
And he suggested that state officials would first try to convince non-compliant businesses to cooperate instead of penalizing them.
“It’s more education. I’m not coming out with a fist. We want not come out with an open heart, recognizing the magnitude of some of these modifications,” Newsom said.
The following counties are also impacted by the order: Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus and Tulare.
Many local California governments have delayed reopening or have imposed extra restrictions as cases rose. Officials in Los Angeles and Ventura counties had already closed beaches for the Fourth of July weekend before Newsom announced his restrictions.
“We bent the curve in the state of California once, and we will bend the curve again. But we’re going to have to be tougher, and that’s why we are taking this action today,” the governor said.