As California’s “unprecedented” coronavirus surge worsens, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he’s pulling “the emergency brake” and implementing the state’s most restrictive safety measures across most counties, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The shift into the “purple tier” for 41 of 58 counties comes as the number of daily new COVID-19 cases doubled in the past 10 days in California, Newsom told reporters.
“We are sounding the alarm,” the governor said, acknowledging the move will have a detrimental impact on businesses.
“California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet – faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer,” Newsom said. “The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”
The state became the second in the U.S. last week to surpass 1 million cases of the virus. In Los Angeles County officials recorded more than 6,800 new coronavirus cases over the weekend.
The governor also suggested a curfew could be imminent.
The state is operating under a four-tier color-coded system called the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” It ranges in severity from purple — the most restrictive for businesses — to red, orange and yellow — the most flexible.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said the troubling rise in cases this month has come at a faster pace than a spike in mid-June. He stressed that the number of infections is only likely to worsen as temperatures drop and more people congregate indoors.
He also anticipates that without the latest round of changes, the number of hospitalizations could surpass the peak experienced earlier this summer.
Ghaly implored Californians to stay home, limit public mingling and to wear masks, including indoors. He also pleaded with people to avoid unnecessary travel — including for Thanksgiving. Those who do travel, he said, should self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
Newsom, who has come under fire for attending a birthday party in Napa on Nov. 6, that exceeded the statewide gathering limit, apologized for his actions.
“I made a bad mistake,” Newsom said. “I should have stood up and … got back in my car and drove back to my house.
“The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted,” he added. “I need to preach and practice, not just preach … You should expect nothing less from me.”