SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After ordering bars to close in several California counties due to the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom explained his rationale Monday.
LATEST UPDATE: Stricter restrictions coming back for Californians, Gov. Gavin Newsom teases as COVID-19 cases climb
COVID-19 hospitalizations in California have increased by 43% over the last two weeks, Newsom said. The positivity rate, or the proportion of people being tested that return a positive result for COVID-19, has also gone up to 5.9% over the past seven days. It was 4.4% just a couple weeks ago.
"In the last seven days we've seen a 45% increase in the total number of cases that have tested positive in the state of California," he said. "We don't like the trend line and that's why this mandatory mask requirement is in effect and why we're using this dimmer switch to start to pull back."
Those trends are why Newsom ordered several counties - Los Angeles, Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Kern, Imperial and Tulare - to close bars amid surging COVID-19 cases. He recommended eight other counties, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus, also close down bars.
READ MORE: 19 California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse
Newsom said that concerning coronavirus statistics land those counties on its watch list. Once a county is on a watch list for 14 days, the state will order certain sectors - like bars - to close. If a county is on the list for three to 14 days, the state will recommend, but not require, such closures.
He announced four more counties have been added to the watch list: Solano, Orange, Merced and Glenn counties.
VIDEO: Newsom explains why he ordered bars to close in 8 counties, says CA prepared to shut counties down again
A large outbreak among farmers who work at Sonoma and Napa vineyards (but live in Solano County) is partially to blame for the rise in COVID-19 cases in Solano. The county says those cases are in the "many dozens." Other cases can also be traced back to family and social gatherings on weekends. Read more below.
The coronavirus outbreak at San Quentin State Prison has also only gotten worse, the governor revealed.
COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: Quiz yourself on the safest, most dangerous things you can do as California reopens
As of Monday morning, 1,011 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Marin County prison, he said. That's a huge jump from the numbers reported by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Saturday: 615 inmates and 89 staff members.
Of the 113,000 inmates in all of California's state prisons, 2,600 have tested positive.
The state is working to relocate prisoners to alternative care sites for treatment, Newsom said. They're eyeing Seton Medical Facility in Daly City as one possibility.
California cleared about 3,500 people for early release at the early stages of the pandemic and Newsom said the state is working to release another 3,500. Those that have been identified are medically vulnerable and are non-violent, non-sex crime offenders.
At San Quentin, 110 people are slated for early release.
LIFE AFTER COVID-19: Here's what restaurants, gyms, schools, sports will look like when they reopen
"The challenge is only 40 of them have a place to go," Newsom said. "And so the question is do you make a bad situation worse by releasing someone that's not ready to be released because they don't have a place to stay. ... It's not an excuse, quite the contrary, it's an imperative that we work to keep our inmates safe."
Last week the governor instructed Imperial County officials to declare a shelter-in-place order again. The county, which is on the state's border with Mexico, is seeing an exceptionally high positivity rate. The 14-day average positivity rate is approaching 23% in Imperial County, Newsom warned.
RELATED: Governor Newsom recommends bar closures in Contra Costa, Santa Clara counties
For reference, the 7-day positivity rate in California as a whole is 5.9%.
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
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county
- COVID-19 Help: Comprehensive list of resources, information
- When will the San Francisco Bay Area reopen? Track progress on 6 key metrics to reopening here
- Everything we know about CA businesses opening and what comes next
- Life after COVID-19: Here's what restaurants, gyms will look like
- Here's everything allowed to open in CA (and what we're still waiting on)
- WATCH LIVE: Daily briefings from CA, Bay Area officials
- INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: How close was CA to becoming a NY-level crisis?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- Everything you need to know about the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area/
- List: Where can I get tested for COVID-19 in the Bay Area?
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during novel coronavirus pandemic
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- WATCH: 'Race & Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall about COVID-19 impact on Asian American community
- WATCH: 'Race & Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall about COVID-19 impact on African American community
- WATCH: 'Race & Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall about COVID-19 impact on Latino community
- WATCH: 'Your Mental Health: A Bay Area Conversation' virtual town hall addressing COVID-19 impact on mental health
- Symptoms, prevention, and how to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in the US
- List of stores, companies closing due to coronavirus pandemic
- Here's a look at some of history's worst pandemics that have killed millions