Updated 2:17 p.m.
The coronavirus is slowing its spread in many California counties, but public health officials warn that doesn’t mean it’s safe to return to life as normal yet.
At a daily coronavirus briefing, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said data show residents in each of the state’s 58 counties moved around less in March than they did in February, which likely contributed to lower rates of hospitalization than seen in other states.
“We are holding onto the bottom part of the model. That’s sort of the better-case scenario — what we had always hoped for, but we of course planned for something different,” Ghaly said.
He said the data is “a point of pride for Californians that we’ve been doing so well” but cautioned that the trend could be easily reversed “if we lose the focus on physical distancing and staying at home.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom gave “huge credit” to county health officers who instituted early stay-at-home orders, particularly in the Bay Area for reducing travel.
Ahead of Easter Sunday, Newsom warned that the distancing guidelines apply to “everyone across the spectrum” including faith communities. “As you pray, move your feet six feet apart from someone else,” he said.
“Practice your faith but do so in a way that allows you to keep yourself healthy, keep others healthy” he said.
Newsom pointed to a Sacramento-based church as a “cautionary tale:” about one-quarter of all confirmed cases in the county were tied to the church.
“They were continuing to practice their faith in a way that did not serve God or each other and put the entire community at risk,” Newsom said.
The governor also announced that FEMA will begin working with the struggling restaurant industry to deliver three daily meals to isolated seniors who lack mobility and access to food, though he did not provide additional details.
On Friday, the state had 19,472 confirmed cases and 541 deaths. The number of hospitalized patients grew slightly to 2,897. The number of ICU patients, which saw a slight decline Thursday, grew by 1.1% to 1,145.
Newsom said he is working on “detailed strategies” about when to begin reopening parts of the state that he plans to make public soon.
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