Yesterday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced 94.1 percent of the state’s population is now in the most restrictive tier, indicating COVID-19 is widespread across most of the state and many non-essential businesses are closed.
“We’re sounding the alarm,” 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 spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our healthcare system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”
The California Department of Public Health also updated its guidance for use of face covering. It says people must wear face coverings whenever outside of the homes, aside for specific exemptions like if you are eating or in your car alone. It also listed individuals who are exempt from wearing face coverings at all times, such as babies under two years old.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti echoed the governor’s sentiment. “The alarm bells are ringing,” he said in a COVID-19 update.
Over the weekend, Los Angeles County topped 3,000 cases two days in a row, according to KTLA. It is seeing an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, but the entire county has just 557 beds available, Garcetti noted. Over 7,000 people have died in the county since the pandemic began.
Updated for 11/17:
The LA City Mobile Testing Group is bringing COVID-19 testing to communities throughout the City for those who are unable to drive to a testing site.
— City of Los Angeles (@LACity) November 17, 2020
An emphasis on individual precautions
The onset of restrictions comes not long after the announcement of “striking” results in vaccine trials by Moderna and Pfizer. Each company’s vaccine proved to be over 90 percent effective. However, it will be months before widespread availability is possible.
“Now is the time to do all we can— government at all levels and Californians across the state— to flatten the curve again as we have done before,” Newsom said.
“Personal decisions are critical, and I am imploring every Californian to stay home if they can, wear a mask whenever they leave their homes, limit mixing, practice physical distancing and wash hands,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Gjaly said.