State braces for holiday weekend during worsening public health crisis

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom briefed residents on California’s coronavirus relief efforts Thursday as the state heads into a holiday weekend during a worsening pandemic.

Responding to concerns that crowded beaches and backyard get-togethers could deepen the state’s health crisis, officials in counties up and down the state have tightened COVID-19 restrictions and closed recently reopened public areas.

Newsom and state health officials ordered 19 counties — accounting for about 70% of the state — to close all bars and indoor spaces at businesses ahead of the weekend, and also closed state beach parking lots. Many parts of Southern California have chosen to close their beaches entirely.

San Diego was not on the governor’s “watch list” of 19 counties compelled to close down ahead of the weekend, but if the region’s health indicators continue trending in the direction they have been, it could trigger more closing requirements before the holiday, county officials warned Wednesday.

Newsom frequently emphasizes the role of local governments in implementing their own policies to comply with state recommendations, but emphasized Thursday that his administration reserves the right to enforce any health orders.

He shared a variety of counties — including Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara — that had already issued orders in response to their placement on the state’s watch list. He said he expected a handful of others, including Sacramento, to issue their own orders to comply with new restrictions on Thursday.

Meanwhile, California’s numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction, Newsom said. The state’s positivity rate — a critical measure that reflects the percentage of positive cases among the total cases — is up to 6.9% over the past seven days, and sits at 6.3% over 14 days.

The number of people in intensive care units due to the virus has increased 49% over two weeks, and hospitalizations are up 56%.

Watch the news conference above, and click here for FOX 5’s complete coronavirus coverage.

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