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Gov. Newsom calls for bars to close, restaurants to cut capacity in California amidst coronavirus pandemic

The California governor also called for home isolation of seniors ages 65 and older, and those with chronic health conditions.

CALIFORNIA, USA —

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday issued a call for all bars, wineries, nightclubs, and brewpubs across the state to close amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19Unlike other states, Newsom stopped short of asking restaurants to close but did urge operators to cut capacity to allow for “deep social distancing.”  

The governor's announcement for the nation's most populous state came as the governors in Ohio and Illinois shut down all bars and restaurants and officials elsewhere said they were considering similar restrictions. 

"We need people to be able to pick up food. We need people to be able to have food delivered. We need the capacity to meet the needs of our population," Newsom explained.

When asked why he was issuing guidance in these areas and not executive orders, Newsom pointed to the success of recent guidance issued on non-essential gatherings.  

“We have the capacity to enforce if necessary,” he said. "I can assure you, I have executive orders, I've got enforcement mechanisms, the capacity to pull a lot of things and bring them to the floor in real time, but we're guided by what's happening not by fear."

Also, on Sunday, Newsom urged the state's 5.3 million seniors over the age of 65 and people with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves at home in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We recognize that social isolation for millions of Californians is anxiety-inducing, but we recognize what all of the science bears out and what we recognize around the world that we need to meet this moment head-on," said Newsom.

As of Sunday, there were 335 confirmed cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 in the state -- a 14% increase of the previous number of 288 was given Saturday.  

RELATED: The latest on coronavirus in San Diego

Newsom also spoke about a partnership between his office, federal, state and local public health authorities, and the company Verily to launch a pilot program intended to expand access to risk screening for COVID-19.  

“We believe it will be a national model,” Newsom said.  

Through the program, individuals in two Bay Area counties will be able to log on and assess their symptoms to see if they need further testing.  

“Californians will be able to take an online COVID-19 screener survey through Project Baseline beginning Monday, March 16,” according to a post on Verily’s website.   

Newsom said additional guidance from the state was forthcoming in the areas of childcare facilities and evictions of rentals.  

In addition to sharing the most recent numbers associated with coronavirus in California, the California Department of Public Health said this weekend that it and the Department of Social Services are working closely with health care providers to protect patients and residents in long-term care, and adult and senior facilities. They are working to improve infection control and prevention practices which includes the recommendation to limit and discourage non-essential visitation to such facilities.   

“This is an important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our most vulnerable and high-risk population,” a release from the CDPH read in part.   

RELATED: Which schools are closed for coronavirus in San Diego County and when will they reopen?

Last week, Governor Newsom issued an executive order to enhance the state’s ability to respond to the pandemic and the CDPH issued updated guidance on gatherings aimed to protect the public and slow the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19.   

Regarding gatherings, the CDPH said in part:   

“Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people, while smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can implement social distancing of 6 feet per person. Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people, while also following social distancing guidelines.” 

COVID-19 in California by the Numbers (as of 6 p.m. PST on March 14, 2020):

6 – Deaths (including one non-California resident)

335 – Positive cases

Ages of all confirmed positive cases:

  • Age 0-17:  6 cases
  • Age 18-64: 210 cases
  • Age 65+: 116 cases
  • Unknown: 3 cases

24 – Cases of positive tests related to federal repatriation flights

311 – Cases not related to repatriation flights

  • 70 – Travel-related
  • 68 – Person to person
  • 82 – Community transmission
  • 91 – Under investigation

11,700+ – Number of people self-monitoring who returned to the U.S. through SFO or LAX
49 – Number of local health jurisdictions involved in self-monitoring
21 – Labs with test kits, 19 of which are already testing

BACKGROUND:

View all coverage of coronavirus / COVID-19.

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask. The CDC says the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low.