SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Governor Gavin Newsom warned Californians of a worsening pandemic Monday and signaled that some counties will likely moving be backwards in the state’s tiered system of measuring the risk of spread.
The announcement comes as record numbers of cases were spiking in states nationwide.
During a Monday press conference to update the state’s coronavirus response, Newsom said California has seen a sharp increase in the rate of cases and positive COVID tests over the past two weeks. Counties are assigned to a tier allowing or restricting additional activities based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate, and Newsom said state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly would likely announce Tuesday that several counties would move backward from their current risk level.
“I anticipate tomorrow you’ll hear from Dr. Ghaly that we will see more restrictive tiering based upon case rates that have begun to increase. You look at places like Mono County, like Kings, Alpine, Shasta counties, you’re starting to see R effective rates growing, you’re starting to see case rates growing,” said Newsom. “Tomorrow at noon, we’ll get that information from Dr. Ghaly, but anticipate that we’ll see some counties moving backwards and not forwards. And this is exactly why we designed the tier status the way we did. It was about being more and less restrictive; not based on political whim, but based upon the data, based upon the epidemiology, based on the facts on the ground.”
According to data from the New York Times, the U.S. is now averaging over 110,000 new coronavirus cases per day, up 60 percent over the last two weeks and setting new records nearly every day. The national seven-day positivity rate is now at 8 percent for the first time since testing has become widely available.
Newsom noted while California is not seeing such record numbers, the rise in the state’s numbers were “sobering.”
“Our case numbers have been trending up as well. The seven-day average of 5,889, the number who have tested positive for COVID-19. Yesterday the number came in at over 7,000, 7,212,” said Newsom. “That number was familiar four to six weeks ago, but since the early part of October, where we were able to get those numbers down below 3,000, we haven’t seen an average of seven days above 5,800 in quite some time.”
The positivity rate for the past seven days stood at 3.7%. The governor pointed out that on October 19th, the 14-day positivity rate had dropped down to 2.5%, illustrating how high the number had risen in just a few short weeks. In addition, the governor noted a 28% increase in hospitalizations and a 27% increase in ICU admissions.
With the winter months approaching, moving back indoors and mixing, there is the increased liklihood of a “twindemic” of flu and coronavirus. Newsom reiterated the need for Californians to keep using masks, social distancing and following other guidelines to keep the pandemic manageable in the state and in individual counties.
Among the counties seeing a surge in cases was Santa Clara, where health officials Monday said there were 358 new COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday, which was second only to the record of 385 new cases reported on July 15.
Nearly all the new cases were from test samples collected in the past week, officials said, with about half of those coming in the past three days. In addition, the number of hospitalizations on Sunday was up by nearly 10 percent.
“We don’t have a clear signals of particular groups or sub-populations or clear super spreader events that would explain this surge,” said Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s health official. “We are actively investigating to understand whether there may have been such events.”
Newsom also touched on the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments to possibly throw out the Affordable Care Act and the impact it would have on the state, noting that $20 billion in federal funding for 3.5 million Californians covered by the Medi-Cal expansion and $7 billion in federal premium assistance for 1.35 million residents in Covered California would be lost.
The governor also touted accomplishments the state had made with Covered California — reducing the number of uninsured residents in the state from 17.2 percent in 2013 to only 7.7 percent last year — and announced a new open enrollment for the program.