Newsom adds Bay Area county to California COVID-19 watch list, explains why he ordered bars to close in 8 counties

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After ordering bars to close in several California counties due to the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom explained his rationale Monday.

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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
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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that Orange County and three other counties were being closely monitored for worsening COVID-19 trends as the state attempts to mitigate the spread of the virus.



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.

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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.

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As of Monday morning, 1,011 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Marin County prison. That's a huge jump from the 615 cases reported Saturday.


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.

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"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%.

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