Bay Area and California Impose New Restrictions As COVID19 Cases Surge

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Coronavirus cases in the Bay Area and the state of California are surging amid rapidly-evolving outbreaks and the incoming winter season. 

On Friday, California Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly appeared in a 45-minute press conference where he warned residents of the dire COVID-19 situation in the state. 

“I am worried,” Ghaly said. “This is an important, immediate situation.”

Dr. Erica Pan, the acting state health officer, echoed Dr. Ghaly’s remarks. During the press conference, she revealed that state health officials recorded 6,893 new novel coronavirus cases, surpassing the state’s seven-day average of 6,773. 

California’s coronavirus 14-day positivity rate has increased to 4.0%, with hospitalization up 35$ over the past two weeks. COVID-19 patients in the state’s Intensive Care Units have also hit 931 over the past 14 days, Deadline reported. 

“We are actively discussing this with our local health officials and internally about what we can do with this rapid rate of rise and what we could do with the ’emergency brakes’ we built in from the beginning,” the HHS director said. 

“Our concern with this rapid rate of rise is that the peak could be higher [than in July] if we don’t restrict,” he added. 

When asked what the “emergency brakes” might mean, Dr. Ghaly cited the state’s tiered reopening scheme and said some countries might need to jump back multiple tiers at once. 

“This is a quickly, rapidly evolving situation and we will do what we need to make sure to protect the health of Californians,” Ghaly said. 

The HHS director’s remarks come at the heels of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s sweeping new coronavirus restrictions. 

According to a statement issued by the Pacific Northwest states on Friday, people who arrive in California, Oregon, and Washington will be asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. 

The coronavirus travel advisory urges residents to only take essential trips, including work and study, health, immediate medical care, safety, and security. The advisory also encouraged travelers to limit their interactions with people in their households, CNBC reported. 

“California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down. Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians. Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives,” the statement read. 

Several Bay Area counties have also revised its coronavirus restrictions to curb the rising number of infections and tamp down on hospitalizations, KRON4 reported.  

In Alameda, plans to reopen have been temporarily suspended. The county is expected to move back into the Red tier, which means some non-essential indoor businesses would have to remain closed. 

In Contra Costa, county officials have said they will take precautions despite having a positivity rate of 2.3%. Retail stores, shopping malls, and food courts will have to operate at limited occupancy, while gyms and fitness centers can accommodate 10% of their normal occupancy. 

Starting Nov.17, indoor dining, fitness centers, and concession stands will have to shut down operations. 

In Marin, a rise in the number of cases has forced the county to move into the Red tier. Starting Nov. 17, all indoor dining establishments will not be allowed to operate. Additionally, malls, retail stores, and libraries will operate at 50% capacity. 

Museums and places of worship would also have to reduce their capacity to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Gyms and fitness centers are expected to reduce capacity to 10%. Wineries, family entertainment centers, and cardrooms are only allowed to operate outdoors. 

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.