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As Coronavirus Surges, California Orders Another Round Of Restrictions

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

California's governor says something's got to change. The coronavirus is so bad there, he's reinstating broad restrictions, but those could have a devastating impact on businesses. From member station KQED, Katie Orr reports.

KATIE ORR, BYLINE: Just a couple weeks ago, California seemed to be headed in the right direction with COVID-19. Many counties were loosening restrictions as cases and positivity rates fell. But the situation has changed. Daily cases have doubled in the last two weeks. Now Governor Gavin Newsom says he's pulling the emergency brake.

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GAVIN NEWSOM: This is simply the fastest increase California has seen since the beginning of this pandemic.

ORR: In response, 41 of the 58 California counties will now be operating under the most restrictive guidelines, which severely limit nonessential indoor activities. The move affects 94% of the state's population. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says slowing the spread now is crucial to keeping the health care system from being overrun.

MARK GHALY: Tracking the data over many, many months shows us that cases today will end up in our hospital beds in two to three weeks.

ORR: But some businesses worry that another shutdown is more than they can handle. Stacy Salman manages a small kickboxing gym in Sacramento County. She says they held classes outside in the summer but can't do that during the winter.

STACY SALMAN: So if we don't stay open indoors and try to mitigate the virus as much as we can, then we don't have members paying. And therefore, our business closes.

ORR: State tax revenues have been coming in ahead of projections. So Governor Newsom says his top priority in the coming year will be to use some of that money to support small businesses. For NPR News, I'm Katie Orr in Sacramento.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.