SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after announcing new mandatory closures in 19 California counties where the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the complex issue of enforcing new rules.
The state is launching a massive PSA campaign in an attempt to convince Californians to wear masks. If they don't, Newsom said counties should feel empowered to swap the carrot for the stick.
"If 40 million people want to turn their back on civil society and abuse the rules, laws and regulations on a consistent basis, then society begins to erode," he said. "If you're not seeing behavioral changes then we think citations are appropriate where there's abuse."
He added there's a financial incentive for counties to enforce health orders: The new budget has $2.5 billion in local funding contingent on enforcing orders that county health officers have issued.
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Some areas like West Hollywood will start to crack down on people who don't wear face coverings in public. Deputies in the city will issue citations for people without face coverings, with first-time offenders facing a $300 fine, according to the West Hollywood sheriff's station.
On Wednesday, Newsom announced the return of some stricter restrictions and business closures ahead of Fourth of July weekend. Effective immediately, restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and cardrooms have to shut down indoor operations. Those businesses can still operate outdoors.
That applies to 19 counties as of Thursday morning. Those 19 counties represent more than 70% of the state's population.
Counties with mandatory closures should consider canceling Fourth of July fireworks shows, the governor said, and Californians should not gather with people they do not live with.
Enforcing the new rules will be difficult, Newsom said. He said seven state agencies with regulatory authority would target non-compliant businesses, including the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Highway Patrol.
"It's more education. I'm not coming out with a fist. We want not come out with an open heart, recognizing the magnitude of some of these modifications," Newsom said.
The trends that prompted the ordered closures have only gotten worse. More than 4,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. That brings the positivity rate, or the proportion of people tested for COVID-19 that end up positive, to a 6.3% average over the past two weeks. It was 4.6% two weeks ago.
"That's a very high increase. It may not seem like much to some but every decimal point is profoundly impactful," Newsom said.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations have climbed 56% over the past two weeks and ICU admissions are up 49%.
"Disabuse yourself of the idea that somehow people are no longer dying," Newsom said Wednesday.