Gov. Newsom explains what needs to happen before CA resumes reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic

There are 'early good signs' in California's COVID-19 trends, says Gov. Newsom. But a lot more needs to happen before we toggle that dimmer switch again.

ByTony Cabrera and Alix Martichoux KGO logo
Monday, August 3, 2020
Gov. Newsom shares 'early good signs' in California COVID-19 trends
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Gov. Gavin Newsom shared "early good signs" that things may be getting better in California amid the coronavirus pandemic.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Gavin Newsom shared "early good signs" that things may be getting better in California amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is at 7,764, the governor said, which is down 21% from a week ago. Coronavirus-related hospitalizations are down 10% and ICU hospitalizations are down 5% over the past two weeks, Newsom added. He also noted that the positivity rate is down to 7% in the last two weeks.

"Encouraging signs, but one week does not make the kind of trend that gives us confidence to generate headlines," the governor said. "We're looking forward to that, and we'll need to see another few weeks of this kind of data to come in to feel more confident."

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When asked what may be contributing to the apparent decline in transmission, whether it was more mask wearing or fewer gatherings, Newsom answered "all of the above." He added the mandatory sectoral closings - including bars and indoor restaurants statewide - have also had an impact.

"At the same time, we can quickly find ourselves back to where we were just a few weeks ago, a month ago - with significant increases - if we do not maintain our vigilance," Newsom said. "This virus is not going away. It's not just going to take Labor Day weekend off, it's not going to take Halloween off or the holidays off. Until we have quality therapeutics and until we have a vaccine, we are going to be living with this virus."

With that in mind, Newsom made it clear he's not ready to start toggling the "dimmer switch" on reopening just yet. Before that happens, he said we need a "marked decline" and "consistent stabilization" in hospitalization rates, ICU admissions and testing positivity rates.

He added that the next round of reopening would be more focused on educating the public than the first round was earlier on in the pandemic.

"I think the most important thing that I've reflected on the last number of months ... is that when we began to modify our stay-at-home orders, we were focused (on) industry and employers. And we needed to be equally focused in educating the public about what these modifications were."

Since then, the state has invested in a significant mask-wearing public awareness campaign.

VIDEO: Newsom takes deep dive into California COVID-19 trends

Gov. Newsom hadn't held a COVID-19 press conference since last Monday, when he announced a $52 million investment in fighting the virus in the Central Valley. Fresno, Tulare and Stanislaus counties have some of the highest coronavirus positivity rates in the state - though as of Monday, about 94% of the state's population is on the COVID-19 watch list.

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California has 509,162 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic in March. Over the weekend, we saw some early signs that the summer surge may slowly be declining. The seven-day average of new cases was 7,929 per day, down from 9,852 the week prior.

That being said, cases, hospitalizations and resulting deaths continue to rise.