Health authorities clarified the order did not prohibit “any number of persons from the same household” from going outside – as long as they do not interact or gather with people from a different household. Furthermore, officials said the order does not apply to homeless people.
California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly blamed the rise in cases and hospitalizations across the state on increased indoor gatherings due to the colder weather, more travel and events like Halloween and sporting events. He said during a briefing: “We certainly need to be laser-focused on all thing we can do collectively [to stop the spread of the coronavirus] across the state.”
Ghaly stated that Califonia’s test positivity rate increased to 5.6 percent in seven days from below three percent weeks ago. COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past two weeks increased by 63.6 percent, he added.
The health secretary expressed his support toward Newsom’s recent mandate, as the earlier stay-home order in March was effective in combating the spread of the virus. Ghaly explained: “Why are we doing this, [and] what are we hoping to gain? It’s really to avoid further restrictions. [COVID-19] goes from zero to 60 miles per hour very quickly … but that can rapidly change – maybe not statewide, maybe just in a handful of counties. Further restrictions is what we hope to avoid.
As of press time, the U.S. currently has a COVID-19 caseload of 12.2 million, with 4.5 million recoveries and 256,783 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
An article by the LA Times explained the color-coded public health restrictions used in the state.
Counties under the yellow tier have minimal COVID-19 transmission and a test positivity rate of less than two percent. Most establishments are open, but are only permitted to accept 50 percent of their accommodating capacity.
Counties under the orange tier have a coronavirus test positivity rate ranging from two to 4.9 percent. Bars in orange tier counties can open outdoors, and sports fans can watch sports events at venues – albeit at a limited capacity.
Red tier counties register a test positivity rate between five and eight percent. Fitness centers such as gyms, dance studios and yoga studios can open at 10 percent capacity. Indoor malls are permitted to operate, but must close their common areas and reduce occupancy at food courts.
Purple tier counties see widespread COVID-19 transmission with a test positivity rate higher than eight percent – prompting more stringent measures. As such, most businesses are closed to the public. Houses of worship are not allowed to hold face-to-face indoor services, and religious ceremonies such as weddings and funerals are likewise prohibited.
Sheriffs from a number of Calif. counties have stated that they will not prioritize enforcing the curfew measure – with some refusing to enforce it outright. (Related: Thousands protest in LA after Gov. Gavin Newsom prohibits Independence Day gatherings.)
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said in a statement that his office “will not be determining … compliance with, or enforcing compliance of any health or emergency orders.” The sheriff for El Dorado County also said it would not be enforcing the curfew order by Newsom.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement that the county has “focused on education and voluntary compliance” and only used criminal enforcement measures as an “extreme last resort.” Villanueva added: “We trust in the community and rely on people to assess risk and take precautions as appropriate.”
Meanwhile, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said: “At this time, due to the need to have deputies available for emergency calls or other services, [they] will not be responding to requests for face coverings or social gatherings-only enforcement.” (Related: Hypocrisy: Gavin Newsom caught attending large mask-free birthday party.)
Prior to the sheriffs’ refusal to enforce Newsom’s curfew mandate, Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman slapped down the Calif. governor’s previous lockdown orders as unconstitutional in early November. She also ordered him to “stop issuing directives related to the coronavirus” that might interfere with state law.”