SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom warned residents that California is “not out of the woods” Monday as health officials across the country watch warily for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Newsom said that there is a “very real” chance that California sees an increase in cases and hospitalizations as people come out of their pseudo-quarantines. He urged residents to continue wearing face-coverings, following guidelines for social distancing and adhering to other best health practices.
The governor said that as the state continues to increase its testing capacity, health authorities are focusing on statistics other than the total number of COVID-19 cases, which naturally increases in line with the number of tests issued.
One such measure is positivity rate: the proportion of positive results as a percentage of the total tests issued. That rate has trended downward, Newsom said, and the state hopes that remains the case.
Newsom said that the strict start to California’s stay-at-home order had effectively “flattened the curve” — slowed the rate at which the virus spread, keeping the cases from spiking to an unmanageable level. That gave the state time to gather medical supplies, increase hospital capacity, house homeless residents, get more virus tests and train more people for contact tracing, the governor said.
Those efforts won’t slow down any time soon, as officials anticipate a second wave of cases, prompted by people re-entering public spaces, could spike at an even higher rate than the first. That was also the case with the flu pandemic in 1918.
California had recorded more than 5,000 COVID-19 deaths as of Sunday.
In San Diego County, where businesses and other public spaces are steadily reopening, health officials reported 126 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths Sunday. That brought the county’s total number of cases to 9,440 with the death toll remaining at 319.