As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to urge all residents to wear masks and face coverings in public.
“The evidence is simply overwhelming: Masks keep Californians healthy,” Newsom said.
He spent most of his regular coronavirus briefing on Thursday reinforcing the idea that masks are essential for protecting everyone. especially the state’s most vulnerable — such as seniors and essential workers — and medical centers, supermarkets and other businesses.
Newsom also worked to reframe the narrative, arguing that masks are “not a partisan issue” but instead “a public health issue,” citing the fact that he did a public-service announcement with two former Republican governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson.
“We have to continue to fight this disease, do more, and do better,” Newsom said.
California is launching on Thursday a new, multilingual public-service campaign to get more people to wear masks, including TV ads and more than 400 billboards, with funding help from state philanthropists.
When asked about issuing fines or using enforcement to compel residents to wear masks or face coverings, the governor cited some $2.5 billion in local government funding that is contingent upon their compliance with state orders and mandates.
“If we don’t see the level of enforcement … that’s precisely why we put up $2.5 billion of contingent money,” Newsom said.
The governor also gave an update on the 19 counties that were ordered to close indoor operations for businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters and museums. Thirteen of those counties will have issued local orders in line with the state mandate as of Thursday, he said.
“We don’t want to do things to you but with you, but we reserve the right to move forward with this mandate if we do not see action demonstrably,” he said.
The state added 4,056 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, and California’s positivity rate has risen to 6.3% over the past two weeks, and 6.9% in the past seven days.
“Unfortunately, we’re starting to see an increase,” Newsom said.
Hospitalizations are also up, but the bed capacity is approximately 7%. Intensive-care admissions have increased by 42% in the past two weeks.
Also on Thursday, Dr. Sonia Angell, the state’s public health director, issued a statement asking people not to get together with those outside their households over the Fourth of July weekend.
“Any public or private events this weekend that include people who do not live together in the same household should not happen," Angell said. "This includes family get-togethers."
Public health officials say transmission of COVID-19 can largely be traced to in-home gatherings, dinners and parties.
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