California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state plans to issue new measures as early as July 1 that could require local jurisdictions to step up enforcement of a mandate requiring people to wear face coverings while in public or high-risk settings.
During his June 30 press briefing, Newsom said he’ll announce stricter enforcement measures for health rules and “use that dimmer switch we’ve referred to and begin to toggle back on our stay-at-home order and tighten things up.”
“We’ll be doing more to focus on enforcement in this state,” Newsom said. “Enforcement comes in many different shapes. Primarily local enforcement.”
Newsom said the state has financial resources to step up enforcement in counties or cities where local officials choose not to comply with health rules. The governor twice referenced the need for Californians to follow the statewide order to wear face coverings issued June 18 when discussing new guidance expected to be released ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend.
“We have conditioned $2.5 billion in our state budget on applying the spirit and the letter of the law as it relates to health directives at the county level,” Newsom said. “If local officials are unwilling to enforce and are being dismissive, we will condition the distribution of those dollars. Again, $2.5 billion.”
Newsom indicated it’s no coincidence the state is stepping up its plans to enforce regulations ahead of the July 4 weekend as state officials are particularly concerned about the spread and transmission of COVID-19 at family gatherings.
The governor said people have a tendency to “let down their guard” in the presence of their extended family and expressed concern over the potential for an uptick in positive tests following a weekend where people will gather and may not wear masks.
“We’re going to need to do more expressing our concern about that, messaging more about the seriousness of face coverings and physical distancing and being a little bit more aggressive with regard to guidelines for the 4th of July,” Newsom said.
Citing data compiled by the California Department of Public Health, Newsom said the positivity rate from coronavirus tests in California has increased from 4.4% two weeks ago to 5.6% over the last 14 days. He also noted the positivity rate has climbed to 5.9% over the last seven days and said he soon expects to add four counties to the 19 that are already on a state watch list.
“We bent the curve in the state of California once,” Newsom said. “We will bend the curve again. Mark my words. We will crush this pandemic. We will annihilate it. We will get past this. But we are going to have to be tougher.”
Newsom said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) will also play a role in the state’s enforcement of health rules.
“There are financial conditions, there’s regulatory oversight, there’s code oversight, all of those things are part of our overall efforts,” Newsom said. “OSHA is now very active in this space. Alcohol Beverage Control is very active in this space and just moments ago, we’ll be making a more formal and detailed announcement on enforcement tomorrow.”