California pulls ’emergency brake’ in bid to stop unprecedented virus surge – POLITICO

A student nurse collects forms as cars line up at a Covid-19 testing site Monday in Costa Mesa, Calif. | Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

OAKLAND — California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered widespread closures of indoor operations by tomorrow as the state faces its fastest surge in cases since the pandemic began, pulling what he called the “emergency brake” on 94 percent of residents.

Newsom said he was compelled to act by a case surge that is “simply without precedent in California’s pandemic history.”

“Bottom line is, we’re moving from a marathon to a sprint,” Newsom said.

That has led Newsom to accelerate the process, ensuring 41 of California’s 58 counties will have to shut churches, indoor dining and gyms until the state deems them safe for operation. That includes most of the state’s heavily populated counties, including most of the San Francisco Bay Area that previously had forestalled the same coronavirus spread seen elsewhere.

Instead of waiting for Tuesday to move counties to new tiers, Newsom made the change Monday and said the emergency measure allows for counties to move into shutdowns after only one week of rising infection spread. He said the state will no longer wait until each Tuesday to impose new restrictions on counties.

Some counties will drop multiple tiers to land in the most restrictive tier, Newsom said, and their timeline to comply will be compressed from 72 hours to 24 hours.

“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of Covid-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”

While the state’s approach so far has allowed for variation among counties, Newsom said a spike in cases has prevailed across the state rather than in isolated areas and has hit every age group. “We are seeing community spread broadly,” he said.