SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state is pulling the "emergency brake" on economic activity in light of what he calls an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases statewide.
"Daily cases in the State of California have doubled just in the last 10 days," Newsom said. "California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet –faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. "
The move means counties with spiking virus metrics can move backward in the state's four-tier reopening matrix after one week, rather than the previous two-week requirement. Counties can also move back multiple tiers when called for, and counties that move backward must require industry restrictions immediately, not three days.
While last week there were 12 counties in the state's most restrictive purple tier, Newsom announced that this week that number had jumped to 41 counties. That increase will see some 94% of the state's residents falling under the purple tier, leaving 11 counties in red, four in orange, and just two in the least restrictive yellow tier.
"We are seeing community spread broadly throughout the state of California," Newsom said. "We have been preparing for this moment.
While the governor sounded the alarm on what he defined as California moving "backwards, not forwards," he also cited progress the state had made in amassing critical PPE.
"The inventory we’ve been able to accrue, our inventory is substantially greater than its ever been with 180 million N95 masks, over 522 million masks total, you can get a sense of the preparation you can get a sense of the PPE," said Newsom.
"California has taken steps to prepare the state for an increase in COVID-19 cases. The state has developed additional testing capacity to allow cases to be quickly identified, recently opening a new laboratory in Valencia that is already processing thousands of tests a day. The state is averaging 164,345 tests over the last seven days," read a statement released by the governor's office.
The governor also said the state had over 20 thousand ventilators available and cited progress made in terms of testing since the last time California had seen numbers of this magnitude. Newsom also admitted he was considering implementing a statewide curfew.
"We are considering, full disclosure, the use of a curfew," Newsom said.
The governor also addressed the controversy that emerged when it was revealed he attended a large gathering for a friend's birthday.
"I made a bad mistake," he said. "Instead of sitting down I should have got up and walked back to my car and drove back to my house. The spirit of what I'm preaching all the time was contradicted."