BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL A swab is put into a tube during a free COVID-19 testing event at the First Baptist Church parking lot in Lodi Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Adventist Health Lodi Memorial teamed up with El Concilio to provide free drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Lodi.

Due to widespread transmission of COVID-19 across the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced he was putting an “emergency brake” on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to slow the spread of the virus.

In addition, Newsom announced that 28 counties would be reassigned to the purple tier — the state’s most restrictive — including San Joaquin County, effective Tuesday.

“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”

A total of 41 counties making up 94% of the state’s population are now in the purple tier.

With relegation to the most restrictive tier, industries such as restaurants and wineries, gyms and fitness centers, recreational facilities, cardrooms and family entertainment centers are all required to operate outdoors.

Movie theaters, museums and zoos and places of worship all must operate outdoors as well, with modifications.

“We figured this was going to happen,” Pietro’s owner Jim Murdaca said. “And I think this new shutdown is probably going to be in effect through January.”

Pietro’s was one of the first restaurants in Lodi to close its doors before stay-at-home orders were implemented by the state and county health departments in March.

Murdaca said the eatery had returned to indoor service in September, and he is hoping he will not have to lay off or furlough employees like he did at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re going to pivot to lunch service too,” he said. “So now we’ll have lunch, dinner and takeout, so hopefully we can keep everyone on board.”

All retail businesses can continue to operate indoors with a maximum occupant of 25%, as can libraries and shopping centers.

Hair salons, barbershops and other personal care services will still be allowed to operate indoors.

All bars, breweries and distilleries are prohibited from operating unless they serve sit-down, outdoor meals.

In addition to rolling back 28 counties into the purple tier, Newsom added that tier assignments may now occur at any day of the week, as well as multiple times a week when the California Department of Public Health determines the most recent reliable data indicate that immediate action is needed to address COVID-19 transmission in a county.

Because of the extreme circumstances requiring immediate action, Newsom said counties will be required to implement any sector changes the day following a tier announcement.

David Claxton, owner of the Twin Arbor Athletic Club in Lodi, said the state’s new ability to move counties to tiers any day of the week will make it challenging for industries such as his to accommodate clients.

“Obviously we’re disappointed that we may be forced to move back outdoors, and if we have to do it to stay open and take care of our members, that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “The numbers are going through the roof all over the place. We need to do our part to get this under control and return to a sense of normalcy.”

The Lodi Unified School District on Monday evening released a statement that students in special day class programs would not be returning to campus on Nov. 19, and that distance learning would continue.

“We are very disappointed that we cannot welcome our SDC students back this week and hope that the health pandemic situation in our county will improve soon,” Superintendent Cathy Nichols Washer said in a media statement posted to the district’s website.

“We will continue to update you as we get closer to the additional dates identified in the (agreement between the district and Lodi Education Association),” she added.

The district was also planning to have elementary school students return to campus Nov. 30, and middle and high school students to return Jan. 4

Newsom on Monday also said the state was considering strengthening its face covering guidance that would require people to wear masks whenever they are outside the home, with limited exceptions. He said the state was also considering a curfew.

The governor’s announcement comes as San Joaquin County’s new case rate exploded from 8.3 cases per day per 100,000 residents last week to 16.4 cases per 100,000 residents.

The county’s test positivity rate also increased from 4% to 6.5%. The county’s health equity rate decreased from 6.2% last week to 5.5% Monday.

Statewide, the new case rate metric is 16.5 cases per day per 100,000 residents, while the test positivity rate is 5%.

According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 23,734 total cases since the pandemic began, of which 1,326 are currently active.

Some 21,907 residents have recovered, but 501 have died from the virus.

There have been 1,849 cases reported in the 95240 ZIP Code, and 568 in the 95242 ZIP Code.

Only Alpine and Mendocino counties remained in the least restrictive yellow tier Monday, while Lassen, Sierra, Calaveras and Inyo counties remained in the orange, or moderate transmission tier.

San Francisco, Del Norte, Humboldt, Modoc, Plumas, Colusa, Lake. Marin, San Mateo, Amador and Mono counties remained in the red, or substantial transmission tier.

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