Health secretary explains when California will use 'dimmer switch' to close more businesses

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced salons and beauty service could move some operations outdoors amid the ongoing pandemic

ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
State health officials provide update on California's response to COVID-19
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The briefing comes one week after the secretary announced new guidelines would be released for health officials to help mitigate the backlog of COVID-19 test.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced several waves of mandatory closings over the past month as California continues to fight a surge in coronavirus cases.

It's a tactic the state isn't afraid to pursue even further if necessary, said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly Tuesday.

LATEST FROM NEWSOM: Gov. Gavin Newsom allows reopening outdoor hair salons, nail salons amid coronavirus pandemic

"We will always have that finger on the dimmer switch. We are not afraid to use it," said Ghaly.

Gov. Newsom has used the "dimmer switch" metaphor to describe the state's plan to toggle back reopening in areas where we're seeing increased COVID-19 transmission.

"We continue to watch the data very closely, and if we need to do even more with our strategies of closing, you know, changing and modifying further and maybe even considering other closures, we will do that," said Ghaly. "But I think it is really kind of reaching this equilibrium.".

While the state is still seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, it's happening at a pace that's less concerning than just a few weeks ago. But if things don't get better soon, Californians should expect a return to stricter stay-at-home measures and restrictions.

"I will underscore, if the data trends turn to such a place where we aren't confident we will get there, there will be potential for further dimming in parts of the state," Ghaly reiterated.

As of Monday, 33 of California's 58 counties are on the state's COVID-19 watch list. That's 91% of the population, or approximately 36 million people.

WATCH LIST: 33 California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

"If you reside in these counties, we only enforce and underscore the urgency of modifying our activities to help us mitigate the spread," Gov. Newsom said.

On Monday, Gov. Newsom announced new guidelines for hair salons and other beauty services, allowing them to move some services outdoors.

RELATED: California went from bending the curve to a major coronavirus surge. What happened?

The governor said new guidelines have been in the works for some time, but it was more complex than other outdoor business operations because of the use of chemicals in some beauty services.

KGO-TV contributed to this report.