Last week California became the second state to pass one million cases of COVID-19. Today, with the infection rate on the rise, Gov. Newsome announced he was putting most of the state into the so-called purple tier with the tightest restrictions on businesses.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that most California counties will soon be in the state’s most restrictive COVID-19 tier amid a surge in cases and that the state is considering a curfew.

“California is pulling an emergency brake,” he said in announcing that 41 counties, which comprise over 94% of the state’s population, will be in the purple tier, effective Tuesday. Last week, 13 counties were in the state’s most restrictive tier.

“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement. “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.”

California currently has a 4-tier system for ranking how counties are doing in terms of the number of cases and the positivity rate. Each color coded tier indicates the degree to which businesses can remain open.

  • Yellow means most indoor businesses are open with some social distancing in place.
  • Orange means some indoor businesses can open up to 50 percent capacity.
  • Red means some businesses can open at 25% capacity and can operate outside.
  • Purple means all non-essential indoor businesses must close, those some businesses can still operate outside.

So in one week we’ve gone from just 13 counties in the purple tier to 41 in that tier. Only two counties in the state remain in the yellow tier and four more are in the Orange tier as of today. Newsome also said he was considering a state curfew. The secretary of California’s HHS said the goal was to avoid overwhelming the health system:

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said the state is acting swiftly now to prevent the surge from overwhelming hospitals.

Ghaly said the state expects roughly 12% of all infected patients will wind up in hospital beds within two to three weeks. He added, “We must keep transmission low, and that’s to avoid flooding the health-care delivery system.”

Last Friday, Gov. Newsom asked people coming into the state to quarantine themselves for 14 days. He also asked that Californians consider not leaving the state over the holidays. Those are still voluntary at this point.

Here’s Gov. Newsom announcing that the state is “moving backwards not forwards.”

Update: Gov. Newsom also discussed his own attendance at a fancy dinner party which made news last week. Newsom apologized, saying he should have gotten up and gone home when he realized the party was bigger than he had expected.