Newsom announces curfew affecting 41 counties in effort to curb COVID-19 cases

Month-long overnight restriction goes into effect Saturday

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a 10 p.m. curfew for one month Thursday that impacts counties hardest hit by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

The curfew will impact those counties in the state’s “purple” COVID-19 tier, which has the most restrictions on what activities and businesses are permissible. There are currently 41 out of 58 counties in the purple tier.

San Francisco is not immediately impacted since it remains, as of Thursday, in the second highest “red” tier. But nearby counties like Alameda, Contra Costa and Napa are.

The curfew, which goes into effect Saturday at 10 p.m., prohibits “all gatherings with members of other households and all activities conducted outside the residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation” between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

It lasts until 5 a.m. on Dec. 21, but may be extended.

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement. “It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”

The curfew comes as the state is reporting 11,478 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, a near record high, and a seven-day average of 9,665. The 14-day positivity rate has increased from 3.3 percent on Nov. 5 to 5 percent Thursday, a 52 percent jump.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary, said, “We are asking that as part of this targeted, limited stay-at-home order that people are home by 10 [p.m.] and stay home until 5 a.m.”

There are some exceptions. People can still take late night trips to their grocery store and walk their dogs. Restaurants could still provide take-out and delivery.

But the hope is the curfew will help to draw down the surge in cases and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with patients. About 12 percent of newly diagnosed cases end up hospitalized in two to three weeks. There are currently 5,319 people in hospitals for COVID-19, a 4.5 percent jump since the previous day.

“It’s really to avoid further restrictions,” Ghaly said. “COVID goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour very quickly.”

Newsom had said Monday that he was considering a curfew as California was experiencing the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. As a result, 40 counties moved backward into the state’s more restrictive COVID-19 tiers, limiting what business operations and activities are permissible.

Last week, 13 counties were in the state’s most restrictive purple tier, but this week there are 41 counties now in purple.

San Francisco moved up two tiers, from the state’s least restrictive tier, yellow, to red, the second highest tier. The move prompted Mayor London Breed and Department of Public Health head Dr. Grant Colfax to announce the shutdown of non-essential offices on Monday, and a reduction in allowable capacity at fitness centers. This came after San Francisco shut down indoor dining last week.

The tiers are based on the seven-day averages of positivity rates and the number of new cases per 100,000 persons.

San Francisco remains one of 11 counties in the red tier as of Thursday.

Should San Francisco move into the purple tier, it would have two days before the curfew would go into effect.

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