Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state has added Marin and Monterey counties to its COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic watchlist to monitor the spread of the virus.
Marin and Monterey counties joined Contra Costa and Solano counties as the Bay Area representatives on the list while Santa Clara County was removed over the weekend. About a dozen more counties across the state like Los Angeles and San Diego where cases are ballooning are also being monitored, according to Newsom.
The addition of Marin County comes as cases among county residents are on the rise as well as cases at San Quentin State Prison. Newsom said state officials have worked daily for the last three weeks on a way to reduce the prison’s population without simply dropping inmates off on the street.
“It is our top focus and priority and every day we are working to move more and more of our most vulnerable population into an environment that’s safe,” Newsom said.
The governor also said the state partnered with local law enforcement during the Fourth of July weekend to enforce state mandates for physical distance and the use of face coverings.
Fines for businesses and individuals flouting the state health and safety mandates can go as high as $1,000, according to Newsom, who stressed that state and local officials hope to enforce the orders from an educational angle rather than a punitive one.
“We’re not going out there with a punitive frame but we are going out there with the resolve that this moment needs to make sure people are protecting themselves and protecting others to mitigate the spread of this virus,” he said.
State officials have shown an increased urgency to slow the spread of the virus as California’s coronavirus positivity rate has hovered around 7 percent over the last seven and 14 days.
Hospitalizations have also jumped by nearly 2,000 over the past two weeks, according to Newsom. While statewide hospital bed capacity for coronavirus patients is still abundant, Newsom said state officials are watching the hospitalization rate “very closely.”
“This pandemic is still in front of us, continues to spread at rates we have not experienced here in the state of California since the beginning of this pandemic,” he said.
Newsom implored state residents to wear face coverings, wash their hands and maintain their distance from each other.