Gov. Newsom tells Imperial County to shut back down amid COVID-19 surge, warns CA: 'This disease does not take a summer vacation'

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As coronavirus cases continue to surge in parts of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom advised leaders in Imperial County to reinstate a stay-at-home order.

COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: Quiz yourself on the safest, most dangerous things you can do as California reopens

"Hospitalizations are going up, number of people in ICUs going up, number of people on ventilators going up, I just sent 76 ventilators down to Imperial County," he said. "We are in the midst of the first wave of this pandemic."

The county, which is on the state's border with Mexico, is seeing an exceptionally high positivity rate, or the proportion of people being tested that return a positive result for COVID-19. The 14-day average positivity rate is approaching 23% in Imperial County, Newsom warned.
"If they are not able to come to some consensus, I am committed to intervening, as is my role and responsibility," said the governor.

For reference, the 7-day positivity rate in California as a whole is 5.7%.

Hospitals there are so strained that about 500 patients have been transferred to receive treatment elsewhere including to the Bay Area. The only mortuary in Imperial County that's accepting coronavirus fatalities is already at capacity and is requesting a refrigerated trailer to store additional victims.

WATCH LIST: Counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

The governor announced California has 4,890 new COVID-19 cases and an additional 79 deaths.

"These trend lines over the last several days, the last 14 days are disturbing and that's why I cannot impress upon people more to wear these masks when they cannot practice physical distancing," said Newsom. "We obviously are at a point now where the impacts on surrounding counties and the impact on public health within the county is such that we believe it is time to dial back."

Just before his Friday noon press conference, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city was putting a pause on reopening hair salons and other businesses that were slated to open their doors again Monday. The mayor cited concerns over the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

"I think what San Francisco did is exactly what the system was designed to do. That is to empower local health officers, based upon the conditions in their community," the governor said.

Newsom said he is prepared to "revert back" to more stringent coronavirus restrictions at the state level, if necessary, but hopes we won't have to.

"We don't intend to do that, we don't want to do that, but I want to make this clear - we are prepared to do that if we must," Newsom said. "Clearly we have the capacity, individual and collective capacity, not to have to go in that direction by just being a little bit more thoughtful about how we go about our day-to-day lives."

The governor has returned to more regular briefings over the past week, as the state has seen a stunning surge in the COVID-19 crisis.

He warned Californians that COVID-19 is not a seasonal disease.

RELATED: What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?

"This disease does not take a summer vacation," said Newsom, as evidenced by the increases in new COVID-19 cases across the United States. "Look at these states that are now seeing unprecedented record increases."

On the testing front, California continues to improve. The state is now ranked 17 out of 50 states and Washington, DC in tests per million people up from 22nd last week.

Newsom said California averaged 88,000 tests a day over the last week.

EMBED More News Videos

The positivity rate in Imperial County is approaching 23%, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned.


On Thursday, Newsom unveiled a new forecasting site, which he called "a model of all models." The state's forecast shows statewide hospitalizations more than tripling over the next month, if current trends continue.

The rise in COVID-19 cases follows weeks of reopening around the state. Most of California is now in Phase 3 of the governor's reopening plan - the final phase before concerts, festivals, conventions and the like are allowed.

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:
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.