California Governor Gavin Newsom Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions In 40 Counties: “We Are Now Moving Backwards Not Forwards”

Tom Tapp
·4 min read

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the number of COVID-19 cases have doubled in the past week, with 10,968 new cases on Monday. He said that is the fastest rate of rise the state has seen during the pandemic. He said that there has been a 48% increase in hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients in the past two weeks alone. The number of ICU patients with COVI-19 have risen 38% over the same period. “We are now seeing community spread throughout the state of California.

He revealed that the acceleration of counties moving back through the state’s tiered reopening system that was foreshadowed by California’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr, Mark Ghaly, last week was being implemented. “This is no longer a marathon,” said Newsom, “this is a sprint.”

Those actions meant that “94.1 percent of California’s population in the most restrictive tier,” according to a statement from the Governor’s Office on Monday.

“We are sounding the alarm,” said Governor Newsom. “The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”

“The data we are seeing is very concerning. We are in the midst of a surge, and time is of the essence. Every day matters and every decision matters,” said Ghaly. Accordingly Newsom’s administration, which usually announces movement within and adjustment to its county tiering system on Tuesdays, instead did so on Monday.

Another change was a movement from a recommendation not to gather with members of more that 2-3 other households to a much more strict “do not gather indoors with other households.”

Just three days ago, Dr. Ghaly outlined the state’s gathering guidelines going into the holidays.

They included such things as gathering with not more than 2 other households, keeping the time spent together to a minimum and opening windows. Newsom tightened that even more on Monday.

“COVID likes the indoors,” said Ghaly on Monday, “likes it when we take off our masks.”

The governor also said he was “looking into the notion of a curfew,” but stressed that he was only

“We are actively discussing this with our local health officials and internally about what we can do with this rapid rate of rise and what we could do with the ’emergency brakes’ we built in from the beginning,” said Ghaly last week. “Our concern with this rapid rate of rise is that the peak could be higher [than in July] if we don’t restrict.”

When pushed on what those “emergency brakes” might be, the HHS director focused mostly on increasingly rapid movement for counties back into more a restrictive status in the state’s tiered reopening blueprint.

“Now may be the time when counties move back after only one week [instead of waiting two],” proposed Ghaly. “To date, we’ve had counties move back only one tier at a time,” he continued before imagining that counties might jump back multiple tiers at once.

As a result, the state now has 41 of its 58 counties in the most restrictive tier, according to Ghaly on Monday.

The adjacent map shows the current position of California’s counties.

On Monday, Newsom said another “emergency break” measure was that businesses would only have 24 hours instead of 72 hours to comply with the new restrictions.

See Newsom’s tiered reopening plan below.

The governor also said the state was implementing previous plans to surge medical resources in anticipation of a surge in hospitalizations. The first area of action would be hard-hit Imperial County, he said.

The state has been working in partnership with hospitals, clinics and physicians on the COVID-19 response, said a statement from the governor’s office. To support California’s health care delivery system, the state has an additional 1,872 beds available at alternate care sites outside of the system that can be made available quickly if needed to respond to a surge in cases.

More from Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.