California officials have ordered new and more restrictive pandemic shutdown protocols on Monday, which would reduce the number of indoor leisure and business activities of up to 95% of residents in the region after a massive surge of positive cases.
The rapid spread of the infection forced the state to put an immediate stop to nearly all reopening plans. The number of cases has almost doubled in the last ten days, with a positive test rate of 5% last week.
During a Monday news briefing, Governor Gavin Newsom said that six of the nine Bay Area counties would be placed under purple tier beginning Tuesday, the most restrictive tier of lockdown protocols, while the remaining three would be on red-tier.
While Newsom did not anticipate that officials would implement a new statewide shelter-in-place order, he planned a curfew that would ban people from certain activities, including eating outside at specific hours. The official noted that the recent COVID-19 case spike had been the fastest increase since the crisis began.
Newsom said that the coronavirus infection targeted anyone without discrimination and that every state was suffering from a staggering burst of cases and positivity rates. He said, “It is no longer concentrated in just a handful of counties. We are seeing community spread broadly throughout the state of California,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The California governor’s news release said that if they leave the spread of the coronavirus, it would most likely take over the entire state’s healthcare system. Newsom urged the state and its residents to do all they can to once again flatten the curve and keep their region safe.
The state’s positivity rate showed the 14-day average at 4.6%, while the seven-day average was at 5%. Despite being much less than the entire nation’s 9.8% seven-day average, the numbers still showed a significant threat.
In Southern California, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has fined a meatpacking plant that Smithfield Foods of Virginia owned. The company has been known to have violated several safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The expansive Los Angeles Farmer John meatpacking plant also did not follow some protocols, resulting in more than 300 workers being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, three of which were brought to the hospital. Officials fined the company over $58,000 worth of damages and remuneration.
However, Smithfield Foods of Virginia said that it has been complying with safety protocols and has ensured the health and well-being of its workers. Company officials said they plan to appeal the fine. The United Food and Commercial Workers union said that due to the complaints, an investigation was conducted with a lack of response from Farmer John, CAP Radio reported.
The state’s health and human services secretary, Mark Ghaly, said that they had seen a much faster case spike this month than what was previously observed in June. The medical expert said that the situation is only likely to get worse as the region gets colder, and people move to more indoor gatherings.
Ghaly noted that if the heightened restrictions were not implemented, the hospitalization rates would surpass the peak observed last summer. He urged residents to stay at home and avoid social gatherings while simultaneously keeping their masks on for the majority of the day. The medical professional also told people to avoid non-essential travel, including holiday visits, and said that those who do travel should self-quarantine for at least 14 days after returning.
Many people have criticized Newsome for his recent attendance at a birthday party in Napa, where attendees exceeded the maximum number imposed by officials. He expressed his regret and apologized for his actions, saying he should have been more aware and followed safety protocols, NPR reported.