California on Lockdown?

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that most California counties will soon be in the state’s most restrictive COVID-19 tier amid a surge in cases and that the state is considering a curfew.

“California is pulling an emergency brake,” he said in announcing that 41 counties, which comprise over 94% of the state’s population, will be in the purple tier, effective Tuesday. Last week, 13 counties were in the state’s most restrictive tier.Advertisement

“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement. “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. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”

When counties are in the purple tier, indoor operations for places like museums, houses of worship, gyms and restaurants are not allowed. When counties move into the less restrictive red tier, they can resume indoor operations at several businesses — but with modifications.

Newsom said that more tier announcements will be made as necessary and that counties can move back more than one tier at a time. The state is “not waiting the extra day or extra week,” he said.

California is also strengthening its face covering guidance to require people to wear a mask whenever outside their home, with limited exceptions.

The state is also weighing the possibility of a curfew.

“Now, before you jump in terms of your mindset and whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea, we are assessing that as well,” he said. “There are a lot of cities, large and small all across the country, that also are promoting certain kinds of curfews. All of that’s being assessed.”Play Video

Newsom cited the surge in coronavirus cases when rolling out the beefed-up restrictions. The state’s positivity rate is 4.6%, up from 3% on Oct. 29. Newsom said Californians should not be “misled” by having a lower testing positivity rate than the national rate of 9.8%, saying “we don’t compare ourselves” to the national numbers.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly also spoke during Newsom’s briefing and warned people in purple or red-tier counties not to gather indoors with other households.

“The data we are seeing is very concerning. We are in the midst of a surge, and time is of the essence. Every day matters and every decision matters,” Ghaly said in a statement. “Personal decisions are critical, and I am imploring every Californian to stay home if they can, wear a mask whenever they leave their homes, limit mixing, practice physical distancing and wash their hands.”Play Video

The tier changes and message to avoid indoor gatherings come on the heels of Newsom admitting that he should not have attended a dinner party at the famed French Laundry in Napa County.

“I made a bad mistake. Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up,” Newsom said Monday.