Governor Newsom's July 13, 2020 order | Credit: Courtesy

Gyms, churches, personal care services, hair salons, barbershops, shopping malls, and offices in non-critical sectors must cease operations immediately in Santa Barbara County and 29 other counties being monitored by the state of California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced this Monday at noon. The state was likely to add two more counties to the list of 30, Newsom said, which includes nearby Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern, and Monterey counties.

In response to the growing number of COVID cases and hospitalizations across California, Newsom also ordered that indoor operations must close statewide for a number of industries: Bars must shut down and indoor operations must close at restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums, and cardrooms. This affects all counties in the state, Newsom emphasized, and he encouraged them to move to outdoor operations as much as possible.

To clarify the bar shutdown, the state Public Health Department guidance today states that bars serving food may continue to do so outside, and must follow California’s outdoor restaurant rules.

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An increase in hospitalization numbers in rural counties like Placer, Butte, and Lake were leading the strain on intensive care units, Newsom indicated, which rising test results put in a precarious position. The two-week intensive-care averages in California actually went down — from 39 percent last week to 20 percent this week — and hospitalizations went from 50 percent last week to 28 percent this week. However, the previous increases combined with an inexorably rising test positivity rate over three weeks — from 6.1 to 7.4 to 7.7 percent — were leading to conditions that required a dampening of possible transmission routes, he said.

Newsom clarified that outdoor activities — whether dining or exercise — were found to be safer. Air circulation was better, he said, based on the contact tracing results not only in California, but internationally. He also pointed to other countries that required face coverings as “much better off than our country” in terms of the spread of COVID-19.

The governor also preempted observations that California’s death rate was dropping — from 72 on Saturday to 23 on Sunday. “Don’t be fooled,” Newsom said. “A week ago, I said it was six, then a few days later, more than 100 people lost their lives.

“The virus is not going away any time soon,” Newsom said, “until there is a vaccine or effective therapy.”

Correction: This article was clarified to note the decrease in ICU and hospitalization averages.

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