Black Lives Matter protesters used an alarm and loudspeaker to interrupt California Governor Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus press conference on Tuesday.
The chaos was appropriate as Newsom revealed the grim state of the pandemic in California. Accordingly, the governor said the state would get “tougher” in its approach. “We’ll be making a more formal and detailed announcement on enforcement tomorrow,” he promised.
“We’ll be looking at the health orders in relation to indoor vs. outdoor activities. The 4th of July,” said Newsom. “More broadly, beyond the Forth of July.”
In reference to family gatherings, particularly over the Fourth of July weekend, Newsom said, “We’re gonna need to do more about that…being a little bit more aggressive in regards to guidelines.”
“It’s family gatherings,” said Newsom, “where people let down their guard.” The governor was most concerned about people taking off masks, giving family members hugs and kisses. “Then all of a sudden, you see a spread,” he said.
Watch Governor Newsom’s press conference, interruptions included, below.
Asked about mask order enforcement the governor said, “We’ll be doing more to focus on enforcement in this state. Primarily local enforcement. We have conditioned $2.5 billion in our state budget on [local officials] applying the spirit and the letter of the law. If local officials are unwilling to enforce and being dismissive, we will condition those funds on compliance.”
Newsom said the state’s levers for compliance would include “regulatory oversight, code oversight. OSHA is now very active in this space. Alcohol beverage is active in this space.”
Trying to sound an upbeat note toward the end of his appearance Newsom said, “We bent the curve in the state of California once. We will bend the curve again. We will crush this pandemic. But we’ll have to be tougher.”
That’s an optimistic stance given that the state saw a near-record number of newly-diagnosed COVID-19 cases — 6,367 — in the past 24 hours. That’s a 2.9 percent jump over Monday’s number. It comes less than a week after the state set a record with 7,149 new infections last Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the state reported that California now has 222,917 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 5,980 deaths. The number of COVID-related deaths increased by 77, that’s up 0.7 percent. The number of COVID-19 diagnostic test results in California reached a total of 4,167,139 an increase of 105,447 tests. That’s up from about 85,000 tests the day before, but virtually the same as Monday’s dily number. The rate of positive tests over the last 14 days is 5.6 percent. California’s hospitalizations due to COVID-19 increased by 301 patients, a 6.3 percent jump. Thirty percent of all ICU beds in the state were occupied by coronavirus patients.
“In particular concern is the number of hospitalizations and the number of ICU beds,” said Newsom
The number COVID patients in ICU beds grew 4.3 percent overnight and saw a 37 percent increase of a two-week period.
The governor said the positivity rate of new tests was 4.4 percent two weeks ago. Now, over the past 7 days, it’s 5.9 percent.
Newsom said on Monday that he would likely be using the “dimmer switch” to toggle back reopening measures in more hard-hit counties. He said there were seven counties, including Los Angeles, that likely would need to “reinstitute community measures.”
Testifying before Congress on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned,”
After rolling back coronavirus reopening measures twice in three days, Newsom said on Monday that the positivity rate in the state has, in seven days, risen from 4.4 percent to 5.5 percent, even as the state upped its testing to over 100,000 a day. Newsom revealed that, in the past seven days, positivity looks even worse at 5.9 percent.
On Friday, Newsom had Imperial County roll back its lifting of the stay-at-home order. On Monday he hinted a that that measure might be in the future for more counties in the state.
Newsom ordered seven California counties close bars and nightspots on Sunday. Those counties include Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings, Ventura and Imperial. He said the counties have been on a watch list from between 3 and 13 days due to increasing COVID numbers. At 14 days, the governor said the state will enforce remediation measures.
On Monday, Newsom added Solano, Merced, Orange and Glenn Counties to that watch list. The counties of concern to state officials now account for 72 percent of the state’s population, he said.
The cumulative positivity rate of tests in Los Angeles County increased from 8 percent to 9 percent as of Monday, while the 7-day average of the daily positivity rate has increased to 8.8%. That’s well outside one key state guideline for reopening, which requires that the 7-day average of the daily positivity rate be less than 8 percent.
Also on Monday, the Los Angeles County Health Department closed area beaches over the Forth of July weekend. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti later announced the prohibition of fireworks displays and nixed gatherings of people who do not live in the sqme household.
On Tuesday the State of New York, which was once the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., restricted travel from several states, including California. As numbers spike in other states, the COVID-19 numbers in New York are down dramatically.
With roughly 2.6 million infections reported in the United States, at least 124,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began.
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