SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — As coronavirus cases spike to record levels in California and other states, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday implored Californians to redouble their efforts to keep themselves and others safe by strictly following the current state guidelines on sheltering, social distancing, wearing face masks and washing their hands.
Newsom’s appeal comes a day after the state health department reported more than 7,149 new cases of COVID-19, shattering the single-day high of 5,019 set just a day before. The state’s data also shows an uptick in the rate of positive cases back to levels from a month ago. While California has also conducted a record number of tests in one day 96,000, the testing positivity rate has risen to 5.1 percent.
“As we not only reopen our economy, as we begin to reopen our households and go back to our old ways and our old habits, a consequence is we are spreading this virus. And it is incumbent upon us to recognize this as individuals, as communities. And as leaders within our households and our communities, to recognize that it is our behaviors that are leading to these numbers. And we are putting peoples’ lives at risk,” Newsom explained before noting that 52 individuals had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and saying that more and more cases were being diagnosed among young people.
The governor said the behavior of people participating in the phased reopening of the state’s economy has been contributing to the increase of cases across the state by not practicing social distancing and wearing face masks. The governor urged people to think of others by wearing face masks and to recognize that they can spread the virus even if they have no symptoms.
“There’s an old adage: ‘Continue to do what you’ve done and you’ll get what you’ve got.’ We cannot continue to do what we have done over the last number of weeks. Many of us understandably have developed a little cabin fever, some, I would argue, have developed a little amnesia, others frankly have just taken down their guard.”
The state’s hospitalizations have also risen to a total of 4,095 people on Tuesday; however, Newsom offered some assurances that the state’s hospitals are prepared for the increasing influx of patients.
“All throughout the last number of months, we have been preparing. We haven’t been sitting on our hands. We haven’t been describing ourselves as victims of fate. We have been preparing to reopen the economy. As we increased community outreach and testing and have been preparing for an increase in community spread, we would need to prepare for an increase in hospitalizations,” said Newsom. “Accordingly, as I’ve noted on many occasions, we’ve identified over 52,000 beds that can be made available as part of our surge capacity in California.
Newsom noted that the number of beds available at hospitals did not include the spaces available at alternative care sites.
“But even within the surge capacity of our hospital system, when you put that number 4,095 individuals that are COVID-19 positive in our hospital system, it represents roughly eight percent of our total hospital capacity, just based on our surge beds,” said Newsom.
Even as the state’s health care apparatus is prepared for the increasing influx of patients, Newsom urged people not to let down their guard during the state’s reopenings.
“We are now moving past distance learning into the summer months. There’s deep desire for our children to have play dates; deep desire for our parents to allow our children to have play dates. To go back to some semblance of normalcy. Where you haven’t seen your cousins or your aunts or your uncles; someone’s birthday may come up and you may invite them over. Now all of a sudden you’re mixing, not in the same family or household cohorts you were in the past,” Newsom said. “The question is: are you practicing physical distancing when you are inviting family members over? Or when you’re having a barbecue with your neighbors or your friends?”
“The reality is — I’m not naive; people are mixing. And that is increasing the spread of this virus. It shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Newsom said.
As he did on Monday during his press conference to update the state’s coronavirus response, Newsom said the state was prepared to return to stricter measures and increase enforcement of health orders, and noted that counties that have received clearance for further reopenings have a greater need for accountability.
“We’ll enforce that financially, we can enforce that through a regulatory structure, there are many other mechanisms, and of course, don’t forget – localism also includes local enforcement. And that’s the primary enforcement of all these rules and regulations,” he said.