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Newsom: California Could Pause or Rollback Reopenings Amid Coronavirus Surge

The Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday penalize counties that fail to comply with the state’s mandates on wearing masks, testing and other measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CALIFORNIA IS experiencing a surge in its coronavirus cases, causing its governor to leave open the option of pausing or rolling back reopenings.

Health officials on Thursday reported more than 5,300 new cases of the virus, which is down from the record number of infections – over 7,000 – reported on Wednesday.

More than 196,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus, and over 5,700 people have died from it, according to Johns Hopkins University. The positivity rate, or the ratio of positive tests to total tests, has been climbing and reached 5.6% for the past seven days.

Photos: California Confronts COVID-19

A man looks toward the shore line at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Saturday, March 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday indicated he might roll back reopenings in some areas if coronavirus patients start to strain hospitals and intensive care units.

“To the extent we do not see progress being made, and we’re not advancing the cause of public health and public safety, then we certainly reserve the right to put a pause in terms of advancing into the subsequent phase,” Newsom said. “…We have the capacity and ability to toggle back in terms of the stay-at-home order and the guidance that we put out.”

[MAP: The Spread of Coronavirus]

Hospitals in California have seen a 32% increase in coronavirus patients in the past two weeks, according to Newsom.

Los Angeles County reports the most cases of any other county in the country. Newsom said health officials are closely monitoring 11 counties in particular.

The governor and state health officials last week said that residents are required to wear masks in many situations and especially when they are indoors. The California Department of Health cited growing scientific evidence that pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people can spread the virus in the announcement.



States Grapple With How to Respond as Coronavirus Cases Surge ]

Leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci had positive things to say about the state’s handling of its outbreak this week.

“I think California is starting to see little bits of surges at the community level as they’re opening up,” Fauci told the Sacramento Press Club on Wednesday. “I think that from the administrative standpoint, that you have a good handle on what things to do.”

California joins more than two dozen states seeing an increase in their numbers of new infections. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control on Thursday estimated that roughly 20 million Americans could have been infected with the virus, which is significantly higher than Johns Hopkins University’s estimate of 2.4 million people as of Thursday afternoon.

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