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Central Valley Counties Turn ‘Purple’. Newsom Announces Immediate Rollbacks.



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Governor Gavin Newsom announced during a midday news conference Monday that many counties in the state have moved back into the state’s ‘purple’ COVID tier, one day ahead of the usual Tuesday update. He called the state’s Monday move, an ’emergency brake.’

“We are not waiting for Tuesday,” said Newsom. “40 counties are being moved backward (in tier).” This change means 94.1 percent of California’s population is now in the most restrictive tier.

According to state data, Fresno, Madera, Kings, Tulare, and Merced counties are all in the ‘purple’ tier. This means restaurants, churches and other businesses must stop indoor service.

Newsom also announced that beginning in 24 hours, all restaurants in a ‘purple’ tiered county need to move everything outdoors as coronavirus cases continue rising.

California is also strengthening its face covering guidance to require individuals to wear a mask whenever outside their home, with limited exceptions. Newsom is also exploring the possibility of a curfew, though he said he was still studying what other countries have done in that regard and whether it’s been successful.

“We are sounding the alarm,” said Governor Newsom. “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. That is why we are pulling an emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”

(This is a developing story and will be updated.)

Fresno Restaurant Owner Reacts

“It’s going to be a nail in the coffin for anyone without an outdoor patio.”Chuck Van Fleet, owner of Vino Grille & Spirits and president of the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association

“Here we go with Governor Newsom changing the goal posts again,” Chuck Van Fleet, owner of Vino Grille & Spirits and president of the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association, said Monday.

Van Fleet worries the governor’s sudden announcement doesn’t give restaurant owners like him enough time to cancel food orders they’ve already placed. That’s on top of the cancellation of pre-booked events.

“It’s going to be a nail in the coffin for anyone without an outdoor patio,” says Van Fleet.

He’s says he’s fortunate that he’s been able to secure a tent for outside dining along with portable heaters that are now in short supply. Van Fleet says his tent is going up today.

It’s the workers that will suffer, he says. “Restaurant owners will have to cut labor. Servers and bartenders will have to be laid off,” says Van Fleet. He says at his restaurant he’s likely going to drop from a staff of 32 down to 18.

City of Fresno Response

Mayor Lee Brand and Fresno City Council have discussed how the City of Fresno will move forward with the State of California’s announcement that Fresno County has been moved in the ‘purple’ tier.

“We expect our local businesses to comply voluntarily with the new restrictions while the City continues to focus on our policy to ‘fix, not fine’ in order to protect the health and safety of our residents,” Mayor Lee Brand says in a press release. “My own brush with COVID-19 reinforces the need for everyone to follow the guidelines and stop the spread of this pandemic.”

Council President Miguel Arias says, “Code Enforcement will continue to educate Fresno businesses to protect the public health and will reserve enforcement for egregious violators not following health guidelines.”

State Testing Strategy

California has taken steps to prepare the state for an increase in COVID-19 cases. The state has developed additional testing capacity to allow cases to be quickly identified, recently opening a new laboratory in Valencia that is already processing thousands of tests a day. The state is averaging 164,345 tests over the last seven days.

Extra Bed Space

The state has been working in partnership with hospitals, clinics and physicians on the COVID-19 response. To support California’s health care delivery system, the state has an additional 1,872 beds available at alternate care sites outside of the system that can be made available quickly if needed to respond to a surge in cases.

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