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Increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations tell ‘sobering story,’ Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom
California is not out of the woods, Gov. Newsom said on Monday.
(Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that hospitalizations from COVID-19 grew 16% over the last two weeks as the state reported more than 46,000 new cases of the virus, marking significant increases as more Californians begin to return to a sense of normalcy.

The Democratic governor started easing his stay-at-home order roughly six weeks ago and has now allowed 54 of 58 counties in the state to open businesses again. Newsom also noted a modest uptick in the rate of positive cases — from 4.5% to 4.8% — in the last week. The number of patients in intensive care has also increased by 11% over two weeks, he said.

“Those that suggest we’re out of the woods, those that suggest this somehow is going to disappear, these numbers tell a very, very different and sobering story,” Newsom said.

The state has closely monitored hospitalizations and positivity rates as key metrics in determining the spread of the coronavirus in California. Newsom has repeatedly said that the state may need to reinstate some of the restrictions of the stay-at-home order if those metrics spike, but has so far declined to provide details on the level of increases that would serve as an impetus to do so.

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The governor said he felt confident that the state will be able to respond to the virus in the weeks and months ahead.

“We’ve always walked into this with our eyes wide open. We’ve always prepared for a surge,” Newsom said. “We’re in that band, where I feel like we anticipated the likelihood as we’ve reopened, of the numbers increasing, and they have.”

When asked how worried he felt about the data, Newsom pointed to some of the economic effects of the shutdown, including the 5.7 million Californians seeking unemployment benefits, and said poverty and hunger also have “profound health impacts.”

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“One has to be mindful of that as well,” Newsom said. “That’s why we’ve worked hard to safely reopen the economy. That’s why we’ve given the tools to the locals to make the decisions for themselves.”

Last week, Newsom required Californians to wear masks in most public settings. On Monday, he repeated a call for people to move about safely when in public.

“Wear your masks. Practice physical distancing. Continue the hygiene that is so foundational in terms of mitigating the spread of this virus,” Newsom said. “We’re not discussing yet the second wave because we still need to work through the first wave of this virus.”

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in California.

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