One day after California hit a new single-day high for new COVID-19 cases in the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted Tuesday that he may reimplement tougher stay-at-home measures in an effort to combat community spread of the virus ahead of the Fourth of July.
“Tomorrow we’ll be making some additional announcements on efforts to use that dimmer switch that we’ve referred to, and begin to toggle back on our stay-at-home order and tighten things up,” he said at a news conference.
While the governor was tight-lipped on details, he indicated the announcement would include action on enforcing measures put in place to limit the spread of the respiratory illness.
“The framework for us is this: if you’re not going to stay home and you’re not going to wear masks in public, we have to enforce, and we will,” Newsom said.
Since transmission is more probable in indoor facilities, the state specifically plans to look at local health orders and directives as they relate to inside versus outdoor activities, he noted.
Newsom’s announcement comes as California recorded another 6,367 positive cases in the last 24 hours. While that figure fell short of the record 8,000 cases tallied by the Los Angeles Times’ coronavirus tracker on Monday, it still ranks among the highest number of daily infections to date during the pandemic.
According to the L.A. Times tracker, the state also reached a grim milestone Tuesday: more than 6,000 total deaths linked to COVID-19.
In addition to a recent spike in cases, officials are also concerned about the strain on the state’s health care system amid a rising number of hospitalizations tied to the virus.
California saw another spike overnight, with coronavirus hospitalizations up 6.3% in the past 24 hours and a 4.3% increase in intensive care unit patients at the same time according to Newsom.
More concerning, he said, is an alarming spike in the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals and the ICU in the past two weeks, which is roughly 43% and 37% respectively.
And while the state continues to ramp up testing, the positivity rate has also steadily increased. Two weeks ago, it was 4.4% over the previous 14-day period; on Tuesday, it was 5.6% over the last two weeks and 5.9% over the last seven days, according to the governor.
The growth in positivity rate ultimately helped lead to the decision by the state to order certain counties to close down bars that had only recently been given the green light to welcome back customers.
“That’s a point of caution, point of consideration and obviously a point of concern,” Newsom said. “That led to the decisions we made over the weekend, as it relates to shutting down bars in those areas of the state where we’ve seen an increase in the total spread of the virus, particularly community spread.”
Nineteen of California’s 58 counties are currently on the state’s coronavirus watch list, including L.A., Orange, Riverside San Bernardino and Ventura. And four more will likely be added within the next 24 hours, Newsom said.
With the Fourth of July approaching, the governor expressed concern that, without further action from public health officials, the Golden State could experience another spike in COVID-19 cases after the holiday weekend.
While acknowledging that many residents have traditionally celebrated July 4 with relatives, Newsom emphasized that such mingling between separate households has also helped fuel the virus’ spread.
“One of the areas of biggest concern as it relates to the areas to the spread of COVID-19 in the state remains family gatherings — not just bars, not just out and, you know, streets were people are protesting, and the like — it’s specifically family gatherings where family members, or rather households — extended and immediate family members — begin to mix and they take down their guard,” he said.
Newsom urged people to stay vigilant in wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing — even around relatives outside their immediate household — in order to bend the curve once more as the state did after the initial stay-at-home order was issued back in March.
“We will bend the curve again, mark my word,” he said. “We will crush this pandemic. We will annihilate it. We’ll get past this, but we’re going to have to be tougher, and we’re going to have to be smarter in terms of our approaches.”