On Monday, November 16, 2020, at noon PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the briefing, Newsom announced that California is “pulling an emergency brake” on the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. Effective tomorrow, 28 counties will go back to the Purple Tier (most restrictive). This covers 94.1% of the population. Nine counties will move back to the Red Tier and two counties will move back into the Orange Tier.
The state is sounding emergency alarms based on a "significant" increase in new cases, Newsom said. Daily cases have doubled in the last 10 days. This is the fastest increase California has experienced. Additionally, now counties will move back into a more restrictive tier after just one week if their numbers are concerning. Also, no more 3-day grace period for counties and sectors to close.
The Governor also provided an update on how counties will fare under the state’s reopening framework with the Emergency Brake as follows:
- PURPLE: 41 counties
- RED: 11 counties
- ORANGE: 4 counties
- YELLOW: 2 counties
**Recall, there are 4 colored tiers – widespread is purple, substantial is red, moderate is orange, and minimal is yellow.
Newsom said that California is prepared for this moment. The state has 11 surge facilities with a total of 1,872 beds. Additionally, personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory includes millions of N95 and surgical masks, gloves, face shields, gowns, and collection kits.
The Governor also provided an overview of California’s COVID-19 approach, including ongoing prevention, testing, isolation, and vaccine efforts. In terms of the vaccine, Newsom noted Moderna’s announcement about its vaccine being nearly 95% effective.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, was also present at the briefing and provided some remarks. He noted that sounding this alarm will help keep transmission low and prevent flooding the health care system. Dr. Ghaly also said the state has issued gathering guidance and urged people who live in purple and red counties NOT to gather indoors. He also referenced the travel advisory issued last week, which discourages out-of-state travel, encourages two-week quarantine after returning to California and staying local instead.
Additionally, Newsom announced strengthening of mask mandate. Now everyone statewide MUST wear outside home, with very limited exceptions.
Please find the Governor’s office press release on today’s actions here: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/11/16/governor-newsom-announces-new-immediate-actions-to-curb-covid-19-transmission/.
As he does regularly, Newsom addressed the latest COVID-19 case numbers. Specifically, there were 9,890 new COVID-19 cases on November 15th and California's seven-day average has increased to 8,198 new cases. The positivity rate has also jumped— it is now at 4.6 percent over 14 days. California was at 2.5 percent on October 19th. Additionally, hospitalizations and ICU patients are beginning to trend upward— a 48 percent increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions and a 38.8 percent increase in COVID-19 ICU admissions over 14 days.
Finally, Newsom stated considering curfews but noted that he needs to review studies on the efficacy of those restrictions before he implements such a policy in California.
The Governor also addressed his attendance at a birthday dinner with other households at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant. In a statement, Newsom previously said, “While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner.” Today, he apologized again and said, “I made a bad mistake, instead of sitting down I should have gotten up and gone back to my car and driven home.”
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Newsom was asked about the effect of this rollback on businesses, especially given that a lot of transmissions occur during private gatherings. Newsom acknowledged the plight of business, but Dr. Ghaly said that we must have a duel approach (both in private and business settings) to stop the spread of the virus. He intends to do more to help and support small businesses.
More on Newsom’s attendance at a birthday dinner— the Governor was asked if he was worried about losing the moral high ground on asking Californians to stay away from gatherings when he chose to attend one himself. Newsom again acknowledged he was concerned and that he should not have been there.
The Governor was asked about working with the incoming Biden Administration on a stimulus plan. In response, Newsom said he is doing do and also working them on a vaccine distribution plan.
On youth sports – Newsom also said he was close to authorizing youth sports but is now tabling those rules due to the surge. Ghaly also addressed this question and noted "the timing right now with case rates going up quickly" is a concern and doesn't want to start, then shut sports.
As always, Newsom closed by imploring Californians to wear a mask, physically distance, wash their hands, and minimizing mixing.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There is now a total of 1,019,345 (+1.1 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 18,253 (+0.2 percent) deaths in California. As of November 15thth, there have been 20,866,785 tests conducted in California and reported to the California Department of Public Health. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.
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