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Newsom Cites Troubling COVID Trend, Warns Of Second Wave If People Don't Remain Vigilant

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- California is seeing signs of a second wave of coronavirus creeping into the Bay Area and Southern California and Governor Gavin Newsom Monday urged people to remain vigilant and keep up mitigation efforts as flu season approaches.

While some COVID-19 trends continue to head in the right direction, such as testing positivity rate, hospitalizations, and ICU rates, Newsom said state health authorities report a reversal in the effective reproductive number, commonly known as the R-effective which shows the average number of secondary infections from an infected person.

If the R number is greater than 1, the number of infected persons will increase. If the number is less than one, the number of infected persons will decrease. An R-effective of 1 means the number of infected people remains constant.

Newsom said the R-effective trend had begun to swing back toward 1 when measured across Bay Area counties and some Southern California counties, while moving above 1 in the upper portion of Southern California, comprising Central Coast counties, Central Valley and Los Angeles County.

As of Monday, the outlier was San Luis Obispo County with a 1.1 R-effective, meaning the spread of COVID-19 is likely increasing in the county.

"While it's true we have seen a threefold decrease in the total number of cases since our peak mid-July, there are early signs that those decreases are beginning to slow down, they're beginning to plateau," Newsom said. "Here at .95 percent, you'll see in the Bay Area, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara among many counties, you can see that trend line, where in the last few weeks, that R-effective is beginning to march back up."

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Newsom said the changing curve on the R-effective graphs warrant a redoubling of efforts to avoid a second wave of coronavirus in the state and in other states.

"It is simply a reminder of what many have projected and predicted. And that is, we have just come through difficulty of a first wave, but the anticipation of a second wave of this pandemic into the fall season. I believe this morning there were 26 states that have seen an increase in their total number of cases," said Newsom. This is, again, what science had predicted if we go back to our original form, if we're not cautious, if we're not vigilant, if we're not wearing our masks, if we're not practicing social distancing, physical distancing, and hand-washing and hygiene, these numbers can start to tip back up, and that's going to put pressure on our tiered plan, and put pressure on our ability to reopen not just businesses, but to get our schools open again, a top priority for each and every one of us."

flu shot
California Gov. Gavin Newsom receives a flu shot during his a press conference, September 28, 2020. (CBS)

The governor also warned again of the possibiltity of a "twindemic" of coronavirus surge during the start of flu season, saying outbreaks of the flu and COVID-19 at the same time would strain the state's health care resources. He urged people to get a flu shot and maintain current safety measure for COVID-19 which would help keep flu outbreaks at bay.

To underscore the point, Newsom had a doctor give him a flu shot in the middle of his Monday press conference.

Newsom said this week could see more California counties moving out of the purple tier and into the red tier which would allow for more reopening of businesses and a return to in-class instruction.

"We anticipate a number of counties moving and progressing into new tiers, which is a very encouraging sign," said Newsom.

Tuesday, Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly will scheduled to announce changes by counties in their COVID-19 tier status.

As of Monday, all Bay Area counties except Contra Costa and Sonoma had moved into the red tier indicating "substantial" spread of COVID-19, as opposed to the purple tier indicating "widespread" infections. A move into the orange tier would indicate "moderate" COVID-19 spread and would allow additional indoor businesses to operate with modifications.

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