SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California will declare a nightly curfew for most residents as part of the measures by the most populous state in the United States to combat an increase in coronavirus cases, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.
What authorities call a stay-at-home restraint order requires people who are not working essential tasks to remain in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Saturday. The order is in effect until December 21, but could be extended if infection rates do not improve.
The curfew covers 94% of the nearly 40 million residents of the state. It will be implemented in 41 of the 58 counties that have registered the most significant increase in cases of the virus and face the most severe restrictions within the California system to reactivate the economy.
It’s a sharp increase just days after the state imposed tough restrictions on business operations in those 41 counties. It was announced just as COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise nationally ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, when many people will be tempted to reunite with family and friends.
“The virus is spreading at a rate that we have not seen since the beginning of this pandemic, and the next few days and weeks will be crucial in curbing the increase. We are sounding the alarm, ”Newsom said in a statement.
It’s the kind of announcement Newsom would normally make in person. But, without offering an explanation, he did not attend a virtual press conference with the state’s top health officials, at a time when he is facing harsh criticism after attending a party. Newsom was at a fancy Napa restaurant with lobbyists despite asking state residents to avoid meetings with people from multiple households.
“Even our everyday everyday activities become more risky,” California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said at the news conference.
Hospitalizations have risen nearly 64% in 14 days, while the positive rate has risen from less than 3% to a rate of 5.6% for seven days, he said.
Associated Press reporters Amy Taxin in Orange County and Elliot Spagat in San Diego County contributed to this report.
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