California Coronavirus Update: Gavin Newsom’s Top Health Official Warns 19 More Counties Will Need To Impose Stricter COVID-19 Restrictions

This week, California’s top health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly, presided over the announcement that 11 of the state’s counties would be sliding back into more restrictive coronavirus regimes. It was the first time since Governor Gavin Newsom announced his Blueprint for a Safer Economy (see chart below) that none of the state’s counties moved forward, according to Ghaly. He also offered a preview of what’s to come.

“As we look forward to next week and we see which counties may have missed their current tier threshold this week, we anticipate if things stay the way they are, that between this week and next week over half of California counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier,” Ghaly said. “And so that certainly is an indication that we’re concerned and that we have to keep a close watch on what’s happening.”

Late Thursday, Newsom gave the state an idea of what’s happening. He posted a tweet reporting that the state’s 7-day rolling average of new cases stood at 6,927, the highest since the virus’s peak in August. Even more frightening, COVID-related hospitalizations had jumped 36% and coronavirus-infected ICU patients are up 37% in the past 7 days.

That’s not just, to paraphrase Ghaly, things staying the way they are; It’s a marked increase across the board.

So if we take California’s top officials at their word, next Tuesday’s tiering announcement will see at least another 19 of the state’s 58 counties move backward into a more restrictive tier of the governor’s reopening blueprint. Likely candidates based on a cursory look at the state’s color chart include Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Humboldt and Santa Clara counties.

But what of those counties — like Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino — already in the most stringent Purple tier? And what if the majority of the state’s counties soon fall into that tier? That’s a question that confronts Governor Newsom and his top lieutenants as the state rolls into flu season with — as of this weekend — 1 million recorded infections since this pandemic began.

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