With weather forecasts showing a summer-like weekend on the horizon, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged Californians on Thursday to heed physical distancing orders — citing what he said was the deadliest day so far in the state’s efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.
“Look, we’re walking into a very warm weekend,” Newsom said in a midday news briefing. “That means people are prone to want to go to the beaches, parks, playgrounds and go on a hike. “
The governor said those who do choose to be outdoors should visit only open locations and ensure they remain physically separated from others as has been done over the past five weeks since he imposed a statewide stay-at-home order. If Californians don’t do that, Newsom said, he fears he’ll soon be reporting a sizable increase in the number of confirmed cases and possibly hospitalizations.
“I don’t think anybody wants to hear that. I don’t want to share that information. But that’s really less up to me, it’s more up to all of you,” he said.
Newsom said Thursday that the previous 24 hours had seen 115 deaths from COVID-19 across California, the most in any single day. He said there had been a slight decline in two other key indicators: the number of people hospitalized and those being treated in intensive care units. The Times’ own data, gathered from public health officials in communities across the state, counted 118 deaths over the previous day and at least 74 as of midday Thursday. More than 1,500 people have died due to the coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic in February and March.
With temperatures in Southern California expected to rise into the low 90s over the weekend, Newsom urged the state’s residents to be cautious in their outdoor activities, even offering talking points for those with teenagers or other young family members.
“Just say, ‘Hey, I know you are likely to want to get to that beach. But just be careful if you do. And make sure it’s open. And if it’s not open, you know, abide by the rules. If it is open, just abide by social distancing, practice physical distancing.’”
A handful of county and city governments have started to examine ways to loosen some restrictions, though state officials have made clear that those local efforts cannot be more permissive than statewide rules. The Newsom administration has sought to work through those various requests, privately cajoling some local leaders to make sure their efforts don’t contradict the broader statewide message of patience with the stay-at-home order.
On Wednesday, Newsom said most of the six key milestones he set to consider loosening the stay-home order he issued last month have not yet been met. The only change the governor has made is to allow some elective surgeries to again be scheduled in hospitals, citing sufficient capacity.
“It will be those indicators that drive our decision-making,” he said Thursday. “And not dates. We don’t debate dates. We look at the facts objectively.”