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Surge in COVID-19 Cases Prompts State Officials to Consider Rolling Back Reopening

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- California's governor warned residents Monday to continue social distancing and wearing masks or parts of the economy could be shut down again.

"It's your individual decision-making that will determine our fate and future," Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a virtual press conference.

The announcement came as California hit a grim milestone over the weekend of 3,792 COVID-19 hospitalizations, which surpassed the previous peak in April. California also reported 1,199 coronavirus patients in hospital intensive care units.

Newsom said if the numbers could not be controlled the state could be in the same place it was a few months ago and tougher restrictions could once again be enforced.

"We don't want to do that but I want to make this clear: we are prepared to do that if we must," he said.

"It's unrealistic to think that if we go back to our normal behaviors six months ago that we won't have ongoing transmission," said University of California at Berkeley epidemiology professor Art Reingold.

He added that counties have tough decisions to make on reopening the economy.

"Because they know that these moves are very unpopular with people; we've seen ... local and state officials have their lives threatened," Reingold said. "The problem is that many people either never thought that these were important things to do in the first place or have decided we're back to normal."

Right now, state leaders are tracking infection numbers closely in 11 counties which are showing an increase of confirmed coronavirus cases and a decrease in hospital capacity. The counties include San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, which border the Bay Area.

Tim Williams is among the barbers and hairstylists in Santa Clara County waiting to get the green light to work again. The county health officer has received heat from stylists who feel they should be allowed to work again as other Bay Area counties lift restrictions for hair salons.

Williams hopes people abide by the restrictions so that he can go back to work sooner than later.

"We want to get back to work, we definitely want to get back to work," Williiams said. "I don't think we're at as high of a risk as they think we are."

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