The state reported Wednesday that it broke a record Tuesday with an increase of more than 7,000 cases in one day, erasing a record reached the previous day when more than 5,000 new cases were recorded.
The state’s positivity rate (how many people test positive compared to how many in total are being tested) has also increased in recent days, as have hospitalization numbers, the governor said. Within two weeks, the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations increased by nearly 30%, Governor Gavin Newsom said.
Authorities urge residents to cover their faces and stay away from each other. On Wednesday, the governor threatened to withhold funds from counties that do not enforce established health orders to curb the spread of the virus.
“The State of California has the legal and other responsibility and obligation to enforce those laws,” Newsom said, adding that they can use “the power of the wallet” to do so.
“That will be an exception and we hope we never have to activate that,” he said.
Now, as the state’s cases appear to be increasing rapidly, here are some of the factors that officials have pointed to as contributing to the increase:
The governor points out family gatherings.
In its news update on Wednesday, Newsom rebuked residents who host private events in their homes, including family reunions, children’s play dates, and birthday parties.
“Understandably, many of us developed a small fever in the cabin. Some of us, I would say, developed a little amnesia. Others have frankly let their guard down,” said the governor.
“People are mixing and that is increasing the spread of the virus,” he added.
The governor’s words echo reports from various parts of the state where health officials attributed a series of new cases to family gatherings.
“Avoid home meetings with people who do not live in the same home,” wrote county officials.
Cases in younger people.
The governor also noted that there has been an increase in the number of young people who test positive for the virus.
“There is a feeling that a lot of young people, well, you are young, so you feel a little more invincible but, respectfully, that can often be a selfish mindset,” Newsom said.
Even if younger people may not show as many symptoms, they still spread the virus.
“And they can pass it on to people who just can’t handle the virus like younger, healthier people do,” he said.
The governor’s warning is consistent with facts by city and state leaders in other parts of the US. Even in the South, they have said that a growing number of young people are testing positive.
Officials across the country have pointed out parties, bars, and other gatherings about where that spread is taking place.
It is unclear if the protests had an impact.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles Couty Director of Health, said that due to the high volume of cases that have been coming in, authorities have been unable to “determine whether or not the exact source of an exposure was a protest.”
“I mean it is very likely, given the greater number of people we see that, in fact, part of this is people who may have been in a crowded situation at one of the protests where it spread,” said Ferrer.
CNN has contacted the county health department for more details.
The state health department said late last week that there was insufficient data to “assess the impact of the recent protests.”
In San Francisco, officials said some test sites that offer free tests do not ask people to get tested if they recently participated in a demonstration.
And in Alameda County, spokesman Neetu Balram said in a statement that there was not yet “a clear correlation between protest activities and increased evidence or positive cases.”
“We continuously monitor our data to inform our orientation and reopening actions. We are encouraging anyone who protested to be tested,” the statement said.
Some prisons are a concern
Following a reporter’s question during his press conference, Newsom also mentioned several prisons as a concern for the state.
One of them, the San Quintín State Prison, has more than 450 inmates who tested positive. About 42% of prisoners at the facilities are medically vulnerable, Newsom said.
And according to data from the state department of corrections, 433 of the new cases at the facility came in the past two weeks.
The governor said the state recently submitted a plan to the courts for several inmates nearing their release date to be released from prison early, to help reduce the facility’s populations.
That process will begin July 1 and be accelerated for facilities like San Quintín, Newsom said.
CNN’s Cheri Mossburg and Jon Passantino contributed to this report.