California steps up enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions at bars, restaurants

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that are now 23 counties are on the state's COVID-19 watchlist, including three in the Bay Area. 

Contra Costa, Marin, and Solano counties are being closely monitored by the state for increased virus infections and hospitalizations. Santa Clara County was also on the list but later removed. All together, there are twenty-three counties being closely monitored. 

Newsom warned elected officials last week they risk state sanctions if they don't enforce health orders as the coronavirus pandemic worsens. Over the Fourth of July weekend, 200 state inspectors fanned out to look for violators, according to the Associated Press. 

"Our enforcement has been prioritized on parts of the state where we have known violaters; where we have high-risk workplaces; where we have industries that should be operating at a scale, think restaurants and bars, in an appropriate and safe manner," Newsom said during his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Monday. 

Over the three-day holiday weekend, Alcoholic Beverage Control officers visited close to 6,000 bars and restaurants that were said to be violating state guidelines, including an establishment in Morgan Hill that was ordered to close. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) followed up with 440,000 businesses to correct any deficiencies and make sure they were in compliance.

The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology also contacted 341 licensees after receiving complaints and concerns, some from county officials, regarding operations during the COVID-19 crisis.  

California's daily testing rate is now over 100,000 and the percentage of positives have climbed 7.2 percent in the last seven days, bringing the seven day new case average of 7,876. With 5,790 people now in the hospital, the rate has increased 50 percent in the last two weeks.

The greatest concern are ICU admissions, which have increased by 39 percent over the last two weeks. But, in recent days, COVID-19 deaths have declined to 18 on Saturday and 6 yesterday, hopeful and far better than the 56 deaths a day over the last two weeks, but not a reliable trend.  

Newsom said the rising tide of infections is attributed to decidedly younger Californians. "Not surprisingly, 'the young invincibles' as we refer to them -- young folks that just feel they are invincible. They don't feel it's gonna impact them and if it does, it's not a big burden," he said.