Nearly three-quarters of California residents live in counties facing coronavirus trends, Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday when he warned that he would impose more selective county or business closings if necessary and increase enforcement of their orders.
Newsom’s comments came a day after he ordered the closing of bars in seven counties and suggested that eight others do the same. All are on a county monitoring list that now includes 19 of the state’s 58 counties, where most of California’s nearly 40 million residents live. Sacramento and Riverside counties announced Monday that they would close bars; the state had suggested but not mandatory closure in both counties.
“Many people were not necessarily as responsible as we would like them to be when it came to practicing physical distancing,” Newsom said of his decision.
Any county on the state’s watch list for more than 14 days must close the bars. Newsom said it is also considering more restrictive measures, but did not elaborate. He also said the state will step up enforcement of the guidelines and the mandatory mask-wear order.
California was the first state to issue a mandatory preventive lockdown order in mid-March, but Newsom began easing the restrictions in early May.
Now, most counties can allow retail stores, dining restaurants, movie theaters, nail and nail salons, day camps, outdoor spaces, and more to open. But state-confirmed cases are on the rise, as are hospitalizations and the rate of people testing positive for the virus, both related to signs to state health officials.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that disappear within two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia and death.
Meanwhile, the state has released a guideline that allows nursing home visits to resume. Nursing homes that can meet certain criteria may allow residents to choose a designated visitor. Those criteria are: a decrease in new cases, hospitalizations or deaths; There are no new cases of viruses in the facility among residents or staff for 14 days; adequate staff and testing; and have an approved mitigation plan to deal with outbreaks.
“We recognize the need, and frankly, the demand, for loved ones to be able to not only visit but also participate in the care and nurturing of family members,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the Agency for California Health and Human Services.
And as the state fights virus outbreaks in jails, Newsom said the state has identified 3,500 other prisoners who are scheduled to be released within 180 days and who may be released sooner.
The state previously released a similar number of prisoners. More than 1,000 of the nearly 2,600 California prisoners who tested positive for the coronavirus are in the San Quentin State Prison in the San Francisco Bay Area. Forty percent of the prisoners there will be considered “medically vulnerable,” and some of them may be eligible for the previous release, Newsom said.