The number of COVID-19 cases in California topped 30,000, with nearly 1,150 deaths, as officials said that science — not political pressure — would determine when they began to reopen the economy.
Although the state is seeing the rate of new infections from the coronavirus declining, Gov. Gavin Newsom said rising death counts were a major concern.
“For those who think we are out of the woods … I caution you on the basis” of the death toll, Newsom said Saturday.
As for lifting some stay-at-home orders, Newsom added: “We are going to do the right thing, not judge by politics, not judge by protests, but by science.”
California has seen far fewer deaths than have other hot spots, including New York. Last week, Newsom outlined a framework for lifting some restrictions.
The administration highlighted six key indicators for altering his stay-at-home mandate, including the ability to closely monitor and track potential cases, prevent infection of high-risk people, increase surge capacity at hospitals, develop therapeutics, and ensure physical distancing at schools, businesses and child-care facilities. The state also must develop guidelines for when to ask Californians to stay home again if the governor modifies the order and the virus surges, he said.
Los Angeles County on Saturday ended a grim week, announcing 81 new deaths and setting another record for single-day fatalities.
Deaths have increased significantly in the last week in the county, even as there are growing signs that the number of new coronavirus cases across California is beginning to level off and decline in some places. The county already accounts for a disproportionate number of coronavirus deaths in the state.
In the last week, deaths among L.A. County residents have roughly doubled and now stand at more than 570.
The number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 rose 1.3 % in the last day, while the number of people in ICU fell by less than one percent (.1%).
“We’ve certainly flattened the curve,” Newsom said as he stood outside a Motel 6 in Campbell, Calif., being used as housing for homeless people. “The question is, when are we going to see those numbers start to decline on a consistent basis, as opposed to an episodic basis, as we have seen over the last week or so.”
The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased 5.3% in the last 24 hours, the governor said.
He said the state was monitoring some 3,500 staff and patients at 400 skilled-nursing facilities in the state, some of which were identified Thursday by the state as having infections.
A group of more than 100 protesters demanded that California ease stay-at-home restrictions. The protesters claimed the dangers of the coronavirus and benefits of social distancing were overblown, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.
Polls have shown the public supports the orders.
Newsom had some advice Saturday for people upset over the restrictions.
“I just want to encourage people that when you practice your free speech, which I don’t [just] embrace, I celebrate, just do so safely,” he said. “This virus knows no political ideology. It doesn’t know if you are Republican or Democrat, supporting the president, opposing the president, so practice physical distancing.”