San Francisco to be taken off watch list Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom says

San Francisco has been on the state's COVID-19 watch list since July 17 after a steep rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations

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ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Newsom addresses CA fires, West Coast heat wave
Gov. Gavin Newsom covered several pressing topics during his Wednesday press conference, including the sweltering heat and wildfires raging across California.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is on its way to getting off the watch list, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Wednesday.

San Francisco has been on the state's COVID-19 watch list since July 17 after a steep rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. As those numbers have dropped below the watch list thresholds, San Francisco will likely come off the list on Thursday, according to Newsom.

"For the purposes of transparency, we expect all things being equal, it's likely as early as tomorrow," the governor said.

That opens the door for schools to open in two weeks, if the city's leadership chooses to do so.

Placer County was removed from the list on Wednesday, after San Diego was taken off Tuesday.

WATCH LIST: 40 California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

Gov. Newsom also addressed the growing wildfires in Northern California, many of which exploded in size overnight. He said there were 367 known fires burning in the state and 23 major wildfire complexes. While the conditions are challenging, Newsom said the state had prepared early by hiring hundreds of seasonal firefighters and hand crews.

BAY AREA FIRES: What you need to know about fires burning in Napa, Sonoma, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Alameda counties

Firefighters are working to contain the blaze amid an oppressive heat wave, which swept the West Coast starting Friday.

The heat has placed extra stress on California's power grid, and led to rolling blackouts Friday and Saturday. The governor said Wednesday night looked like the "last challenging night" of the week. A Flex Alert has been issued, asking Californians to conserve energy between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. to avoid major blackouts.

In his press conference Monday, Newsom admitted the state wasn't adequately prepared to deal with the record heat wave, and the resulting rolling blackouts.

MORE: Santa Cruz Co. removed from watch list, power outages 'very likely' through Wednesday, Newsom says

"Let me just make this crystal clear: We failed to predict and plan for these shortages and that is unacceptable," the governor said.

Since Friday, the governor said the state has taken the following actions to reduce energy usage:

  • Newsom signed an "emergency proclamation to free up energy capacity" and therefore reduce the need for rolling blackouts. The move allows "energy users and utilities to use backup energy sources to relieve pressure on the grid during peak times during the energy emergency."
  • Large energy users are shifting to back-up power between peak hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Utilities are using power they have stored for PSPS
  • Working with ports to reduce consumption from the grid while ships are at port
  • Working with major consumers to reduce energy usage

"Even with all of that, we are likely to fall short," Newsom said. "I am not pleased with what's happened. I take a backseat to no one."