California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the state is hitting an “emergency brake” on economic activity in light of what he calls an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases statewide. His announcement comes days after California joined Texas in becoming the second such state to surpass 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
As of Monday, 28 counties are moving back to the most restrictive tier of California’s matrix governing business operations, CBS Los Angeles reports. The move means 41 of the state’s 58 counties are now in the “purple” tier, which restricts capacity at retail establishments, closes fitness centers and forces restaurants to limited outdoor-only service.
Orange County — which is home to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks — had been in the slightly less-restrictive “red” tier of the four-level system, but was anticipated to fall back to “purple” due to the rising daily case numbers.
The Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego have remained in the “purple” tier.
Newsom also announced changes in the way counties will be classified in the matrix. Counties that have spiking virus metrics can now move backward in the state’s four-tier reopening matrix after one week, not the previous two-week requirement.
Counties can also now move back multiple tiers if needed, and counties that move backward must require industry restrictions immediately, not after three days as had previously been the case.
COVID-19 case surge threatens the U.S. econom…
Newsom said the move comes as daily COVID-19 case rates have doubled over the past 10 days, the highest increase the state has seen since June.
The governor said the state has 11 “surge facilities” that can be activated to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed in particularly hard-hit areas. He said the first such facility will be activated in Imperial County.
More than 11 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. — with the most recent million coming in less than a week — and as many Americans prepare to observe a Thanksgiving holiday marked by the pandemic. Meanwhile, Moderna said its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.
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Peter Martinez contributed to this report.