California 'not afraid' to order more closures if COVID-19 surge continues, health official warns

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly explains when California will use the "dimmer switch" to close more businesses .

ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
State health officials provide update on California's response to COVID-19
EMBED <>More Videos

The briefing comes one week after the secretary announced new guidelines would be released for health officials to help mitigate the backlog of COVID-19 test.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced several waves of mandatory closings over the past month as California continues to fight a surge in coronavirus cases.

LATEST FROM NEWSOM: Gov. Gavin Newsom allows reopening outdoor hair salons, nail salons amid coronavirus pandemic

It's a tactic the state isn't afraid to pursue even further if necessary, said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly Tuesday.

"We will always have that finger on the dimmer switch. We are not afraid to use it," said Ghaly.

Gov. Newsom has used the "dimmer switch" metaphor to describe the state's plan to toggle back reopening in areas where we're seeing increased COVID-19 transmission.

"We continue to watch the data very closely, and if we need to do even more with our strategies of closing, you know, changing and modifying further and maybe even considering other closures, we will do that," said Ghaly.

INTERACTIVE: Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county

"But I think it is really kind of reaching this equilibrium," he added.

While the state is still seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, it's happening at a pace that's less concerning than just a few weeks ago. But if things don't get better soon, Californians should expect a return to stricter stay-at-home measures and restrictions.

"I will underscore, if the data trends turn to such a place where we aren't confident we will get there, there will be potential for further dimming in parts of the state," Ghaly reiterated.

As of Monday, 33 of California's 58 counties are on the state's COVID-19 watch list. That's 91% of the population, or approximately 36 million people. Counties on the watch list are no longer allowed to open indoor restaurant dining, bars, indoor salons or schools.

WATCH LIST: 33 California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

"If you reside in these counties, we only enforce and underscore the urgency of modifying our activities to help us mitigate the spread," Gov. Newsom said.

On Monday, Gov. Newsom announced new guidelines for hair salons and other beauty services, allowing them to move some services outdoors.

RELATED: Everything to know about California's confusing coronavirus reopening plan, summer shutdown and what comes next

The governor said new guidelines have been in the works for some time, but it was more complex than other outdoor business operations because of the use of chemicals in some beauty services.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here