With daily case rates doubling in California over the last 10 days, governor Gavin Newsom pulled the “emergency brake” on reopening and brought 94% of Californians back under the most severe coronavirus restrictions.
The first week of November saw the fastest rate of increase in cases in California since the start of the pandemic — 51.3% — Newsom said. The state reported 9,890 cases in the last 24 hours, with a seven-day average of 8,198.
Last week, California became the second state to surpass 1m total cases.
“Every age group, every demographic, racial, ethnic, every part of the state. we are seeing case rates increase and positivity rates increase,” Newsom said. “It’s no longer concentrated in just a handful of counties. We are seeing community spread broadly throughout the state of California.”
Three weeks ago, transmission was low enough that only nine of California’s 58 counties were under the most restrictive reopening status. Now, 41 counties are in this tier, with some moving back multiple tiers at once. Dr Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services, said these drastic actions are necessary. “We must keep transmission low,” he said. “That is to avoid flooding the healthcare delivery system.”
While a surge was predicted with the flu season, contract tracers have identified private household gatherings as a major source of spread. Recently, Newsom drew criticism for attending a friend’s birthday party at the upscale French Laundry in Napa.
“It was a little larger group than I had anticipated,” Newsom admitted Monday. “I made a bad mistake. Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up, walked back, got in my car and drove back to my house. Instead, I chose to sit there with my wife and sit there with my wife and a number of other couples that were outside with my household.
“I want to apologize to you because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice,” he continued. “You should expect nothing more of me and I expect more of myself. When I say minimize mixing, I mean it.”