SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said that California, like much of the country, is seeing record-setting virus spikes and if the trends continue, he warned he might re-issue a stay-at-home order for the 51 counties in the most restrictive purple tier.
And the worse is yet to come.
The next big COVID-case increase is expected within the two weeks when the spread of the Thanksgiving holiday will likely hit. By Christmas, Newsom expected hospitals in California to reach 78% capacity.
In light of the rampant spread of coronavirus, Newsom said he is looking at possible "drastic action," which includes a new stay-at-home order.
California is already under a limited curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. When the first stay-at-home order was issued in March, most businesses, except grocery stores, were closed. Now, businesses are open with limited capacity.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the order would be in effect "for as long as we need to," and is necessary so as not to overburden the hospitals. California is expected to begin getting about 327,000 vaccines in mid-December and the second doses should arrive three weeks after that. A detailed plan of who will get the vaccines first will be out this week.
Newsom said he realized that this shutdown would hurt businesses and so he touted the use of his emergency powers, working with the Legislature, to provide some immediate relief.
Essentially, he gave a "sales tax holiday" for businesses, giving them a three-month extension for those with less than $1 million in sales tax. He also offered an interest-free payment agreement to larger companies with up to $5 million in sales tax. California will also provide up to $500 million in COVID-19 relief funds and grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses and nonprofits in need. He called these "bridge funds" to get businesses through January. He added that it's been 248 days since the CARES ACT passed and the federal government needs to "do its job and provide relief."
With all that said, Newsom added: "I recognize this isn't even close to enough."
Newsom's statements come after California counties have enacted stricter COVID-19 restrictions and the state broke a record with more than 7,400 coronavirus hospitalizations.
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In Northern California, Santa Clara County — home to Silicon Valley — banned all high school, collegiate and professional sports and imposed a quarantine for people traveling to the region from areas more than 150 miles away.
San Francisco and San Mateo counties moved to the most restrictive purple tier in the state’s pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most indoor activities to close by noon Sunday and placing the residents under curfew starting Monday night.
In San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Park, the new 150-foot Ferris wheel named SkyStar closed Sunday under the new tier’s restrictions.
The wheel was supposed to be the centerpiece of the park’s 150th anniversary being celebrated all year and was only approved to open in late October. No reopening date has been announced.
Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, imposed new rules calling for its 10 million residents to stay home “as much as possible,” prohibiting them from gathering with people outside of their households for public or private occasions — except for faith-based services and protests.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has estimated that the county’s COVID-19 death toll could reach over 11,500 by the end of the year — meaning that more than 4,000 residents could die in over the next five weeks, the Los Angeles Times reported. A record number of people in the county were infected last week.
California has had nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 19,121 virus-related deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported in Oakland, Calif.