California soared past 400,000 total coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as public health officials once again pleaded with residents to take shelter-in-place measures seriously.
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The case count in California jumped to 409,049 cases and 7,891 deaths, with the average number of daily cases in July more than double the average from June.
“I don’t overread into the significance of that number,” said Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, during a media briefing Tuesday. “I look at every day as an opportunity to do better and do more with our response to COVID-19.”
After working aggressively and effectively to contain the virus in the early days of the pandemic, the state has seen a significant surge since the easing of restrictions started in May, which health officials attribute to residents letting their guard down.
“Unfortunately, some viewed reopening as a green light to resume normal life,” Ghaly said.
He urged people in the state to embrace the familiar guidelines: wear face coverings as much as possible, maintain physical distance and minimize exposure to people outside of their households.
“We succeeded in the beginning because we all came together,” Ghaly said.
The state saw another record-breaking day of new cases, exceeding 11,000 for the first time on Monday, according to data collected by The Chronicle from all 58 counties. Counties reported a total of 11,405 cases on Monday, smashing a previous record set July 14 for 10,921. On Tuesday, the number of new cases surpassed 10,100.
During a virtual Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody praised residents for flattening the curve at the outset of the pandemic but said they needed to redouble their efforts.
“We all need to work together and dedicate ourselves to crushing it once again,” she said.
The state is now on the verge of passing New York, which reported 412,889 total cases as of Tuesday, as the state with the most coronavirus infections.
California’s rate of infections of 1,030 per 100,000 residents remains well below New York’s 2,122.
In the state and the Bay Area, the average daily increase in coronavirus cases is more than twice what it was last month.
Specifically, California has averaged 8,129 new coronavirus cases a day in July so far — more than double the 4,007 daily average of June. Bay Area counties have averaged 837 new cases a day this month, compared with 393 in June.
Ghaly cautioned there was potential for shuttering certain businesses or entire sectors of the economy.
“From the outset, we envisioned reopening the economy as a dimmer switch,” he said, using an analogy frequently employed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Local counties are stepping up their enforcement and education efforts.
Cody, the health officer who led the Bay Area’s pace-setting shelter-in-place order and criticized Newsom’s reopening as rushed, said with case numbers in Santa Clara County rising rapidly, “it’s increasingly difficult to pinpoint the exact source of transmission.”
She said the surge in rates of infection is being driven by residents in the 18- to 34-year-old age range, who are outpacing other demographics according to the most recent data.
“Young adults are breaking away from the pack,” she said.
She also said the virus is disproportionately affecting Latino residents, who in the past three weeks accounted for 44% of the cases in Santa Clara County but make up only 22% of the population.
Santa Clara will dispatch support teams to high-risk communities to help residents better follow the county’s protocols.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, meanwhile, passed an ordinance allowing administrative fines for people who violate health orders. The fines for individuals will range from $25 to $500. The fines for businesses will range from $250 to $10,000.
Eight out of nine Bay Area counties remain on the state monitoring list, with San Mateo the exception.
“At this time, we are still not on the monitoring list,” said Diana Rohini LaVigne, public information officer for San Mateo County Health. “And while we expect to be on the monitoring list at some point, this is based on the current state measurement. It is possible for us to not be on the list, especially if the state changes the measurements.”
Newsom signaled a major retreat in the state’s effort to reopen the economy on July 13, ordering the closure of bars, indoor restaurants, movie theaters and many other recently reopened businesses across California.
Ghaly said it could take four to five weeks to see the results of the new restrictions, in terms of declining case numbers.
“Trying to strike that delicate balance is what we’re going to continue to do while the governor’s finger is on that dimmer switch,” Ghaly said.
Aidin Vaziri is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ___
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