By Debra Moore
During his news briefing July 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced closures for 19 counties and called on all Californians to adhere to social distancing and mask wearing this Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Nineteen counties must adhere to the closure of indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos and museums, cardrooms, and family entertainment centers. Those counties represent 70 percent of the state’s population and are Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.
Newsom said that a strike team of several state agencies has been formed to monitor compliance, with a focus on education. “We are not coming out with a fist,” he said, but measures will be taken if that approach doesn’t work.
Plumas County Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff echoed the governor’s approach. The subject is discussed regularly with the county’s COVID response team, which includes the Sheriff, and the approach is “to partner with businesses to help them maintain a safe environment for their employees and staff.”
Newsom implemented those measures as confirmed cases and hospitalizations continue on an upward trajectory. Nearly 6,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours in California, which brings the latest positivity rate, or the proportion of people tested for COVID-19 that end up positive, to a 6 percent average over the past two weeks. It was 4.6 percent two weeks ago. Taken over the past seven days, it’s 6.4 percent. Counties are watched to ensure that the positivity rate doesn’t climb past 8 percent.
Additionally hospitalizations have climbed 51 percent over the past two weeks and ICU admissions are up 47 percent. Newsom stressed that the state has surge capacity for coronavirus cases and ample PPE and ventilators, due to measures taken during the stay-at-home order — which bought the state needed time to prepare — but it’s important that this accelerated rate not continue.
Newsom focused on the upcoming Fourth of July weekend and encouraged people not to become complacent with regard to family gatherings, noting that they often begin with the best of intentions with adherence to social distancing , but then old habits come into play. Many outbreaks have been tied to family and other social gatherings that involve the mingling of individuals from different households.
Woodruff said he is concerned as the Fourth of July approaches and said, “The best way to protect our county is to enjoy the holiday in the immediate family/household.” He added that Plumas County is surrounded by areas that are surging, citing community spread in Eastern Plumas and daily jumps in confirmed cases to the north, as well throughout the state.
The governor also addressed the importance of wearing face masks.
Wearing a mask is a “sign of someone who gives a damn,” Newsom said during his briefing. He added that wearing a mask is “taking responsibility” and “meeting a moment” and showing that you are “committed to your community.”
He closes each of his public hearings by imploring people to “wear a mask, physically distance and wash your hands.”