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Governor Gavin Newsom addressed the challenges Californians overcame this weekend while he reiterated his belief in the state’s ability to address the immediate and long-term effects of the local fires, heatwave and COVID-19.

Newsom and Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services, held a news conference Tuesday to share the work that is happening around the state and speak on the need for residents to continue doing what they can to prevent the spread of the flu and coronavirus.

Santa Monica had 816 cases of COVID and 43 deaths resulting from the disease as of Monday, Sept. 7, but with a number of residents flocking to beaches and coastal cities to avoid the 100-degree heat that engulfed most of Los Angeles County this weekend, Newsom and Ghaly said the state would probably see some movement in the new tiered dashboard system in the next seven days.

The last reporting period was September 7, according to Newsom, who said, “We’ve seen shy of 3,000 cases in the state — 2,676 to be exact,” and the seven-day average is around 4,300 cases. “If those appear to be promising numbers, it’s because they are,” he added as he detailed how California has averaged just shy of 110,000 tests per day.

Since numbers appear to be on the decline, Newsom said state officials are often asked about the steps they are taking to reopen the economy.

“Three-day holiday weekends have not been advantageous in terms of the mitigation of the spread of this virus. You look back at some of the periods where we experienced larger spreads (and) large surge of transmissions tended to occur two to three weeks after say, Fourth of July (or) other holiday weekends,” Newsom said. “And as a consequence, we’re very cautious in terms of our approach as we move forward.”

Ghaly voiced support for the approach when he later took the podium.

“Again, this concept of slow and stringent is really important for California as we begin to see the reductions in case numbers, the reductions in our hospitals and ICU numbers overall,” Ghaly said. “As we enter a new season, as we go into winter where certain activities are harder to do outdoors, we want to make sure — as a state — we go in with the lowest levels of transmission. And our framework really is designed to help us get there.”

When the state’s tiered system was first released, there were 38 counties in the purple tier, which means COVID is considered to be widespread in the area. This week though, Ghaly said, there are 33 counties in the purple and some counties may advance further in reopening efforts if they can maintain steady progress for another week.

“The last thing you want to do is see a county move one week, only to see the potential for backward movement again very soon,” Ghaly added. California witnessed this phenomenon a few months back when it started to see progress prior to the holiday weekends in the summer.

“We must learn from that recent example and that’s why it’s more important than ever to be vigilant as we work through the next few months and work through this flu season,” because if cases were to rise, Ghaly said, “we (could) then see in the hospitals the strain on the healthcare system, our inability to assure that we can take care of as many people who are sick, and a situation we don’t want to find California in again.”

So, residents are urged to remain cautious and do the things the governor asks.

“Wash our hands, wear our masks, keep physically distanced and if you’re experiencing any symptoms,” Ghaly said, “stay home, try to stay away from others so we don’t spread… COVID, the flu or anything else. And we keep these infectious diseases in check, in California throughout the next months.”

brennon@smdp.com