For the first time in the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered a county to pause its reopening and reinstate shelter in place orders.
Newsom says Imperial County, near the border with Mexico, is experiencing a COVID-19 spike that is forcing him to dial back. The news came as cases continue to accelerate in California. The state has now had over 200,000 coronavirus cases and 6,000 people have died.
Hospitalizations and ICU use is also rising and the state’s positivity rate is up to 5.7%. Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties are two of the 15 counties on the state’s watch list.
Newsom says he took the extra step in Imperial County because 23% of coronavirus tests there are coming back positive and hospitals are overwhelmed.
"Over the course of many months Imperial County's conditions required a unique set of support and counsel and as a consequence, we have made it clear we have been sending additional resources into Imperial County," Newsom said.
More than 500 patients have had to be transferred out of the county’s hospital system over the last five weeks to ease the strain. The state says American citizens who live in Mexicali are coming back to Imperial County for treatment as well.
While he does not plan to bring back restrictions statewide, “these trend lines over the last seven days, last 14 days are disturbing,” he said. “And that’s why I cannot impress upon people more to wear these masks when they cannot practice physical distancing, to continue to be vigilant about the spread of this virus.”
He praised San Francisco leaders, who announced Friday morning that they were postponing moving into the next stage of reopening after 100 new cases were recorded in a single day. Newsom wants to see other municipalities take that type of data-driven approach.
“I’s exactly what the system was designed to do, and that is to empower local health officers based upon the conditions in their community,” the Governor said. “I can’t say this enough: California is not one-size-fits-all.”
Newsom reported 4,980 new COVID-19 cases and 79 new deaths statewide and says no counties will be cleared to move deeper into stage three of reopening, and do not even think about stage four until he sees conditions improve.
“Please wear face coverings, please take this pandemic seriously. What more evidence do we need?”