In a noon press conference Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated things are trending in the wrong direction when it comes to coronavirus in California.
The United States is seeing a stunning rise in COVID-19 cases, hitting a record high over the weekend for the number of coronavirus cases in a single day at 126,000.
California cases aren't peaking and the state hasn't seen the even more dramatic surges other states are experiencing, but new figures are troubling. The number of confirmed cases, the infection rate, hospitalizations and intensive care patients all have reached their highest level in months, Newsom warned.
Newsom added that some of the increase could be tied to Halloween celebrations while Barbara Ferrer, the health director for Los Angeles County, urged people who gathered during the weekend to celebrate Joe Biden's victory in the presidential race to quarantine to avoid fueling the spread.
Another 7,212 new cases were reported over the last 24 hours. The testing positivity rate (the percentage of those who get tested that turn back a positive result) is also climbing, with a seven-day average of 3.7%.
Under 4% may not sound like a big number, but with the state testing nearly 200,000 people per day, each percentage point indicates a lot more people who are being diagnosed with the virus.
Meantime, California is nearing two grim milestones: 1 million cases and 18,000 deaths.
Newsom said although the state's increase may be linked to Halloween, the jump more broadly appears to be tied to larger social gatherings.
County health officials where cases are rising uniformly cite "private household gatherings as a major source of spread," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's top health official. "These masks, even with loved ones that we haven't seen for a while, are really important, and that sense that we're safe because we know someone is not the case with COVID."
Yet aside from unmasked family gatherings, the upcoming holidays and simultaneous flu season, Newsom injected a new worry: That people will drop their guard because of positive news regarding testing of coronavirus vaccines, most recently Pfizer Inc.'s announcement that its version may be 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results.
"This vaccine is not going to be readily available for mass distribution ... likely well into the next year," he said. "I am concerned, truthfully, that we may get overexuberant ... and people may go back to their original form. That would be a terrible mistake."
Due to the climbing case numbers, Newsom hinted the state will implement more restrictive reopening rules on Tuesday.
WATCH | Here's a breakdown of each tier in Newsom's reopening framework
Hospitalizations are also up about 3%, but capacity remains good, Newsom said.
"I anticipate tomorrow you'll hear from Dr. Ghaly that we will see more restrictive tiering based upon case rates that have begun to increase," the governor said. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly typically announces county tier changes on Tuesdays.
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On Monday, Newsom said Mono, Kings, Alpine and Shasta counties were all areas of particular concern. We'll be watching for the reopening status changes Tuesday and bring you those updates when we learn more.
It doesn't appear like any additional restrictions statewide will go into place, but rather California is utilizing its tiered reopening map to dial back reopening county-by-county.
"This is exactly why we designed the tier status," said Newsom. "The way we did it was about being more and less restrictive, not based upon political whim, but based upon the data, based upon the epidemiology, based upon the facts on the ground."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.