Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a monthlong stay-at-home order Thursday intended to reduce nighttime gatherings and limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The order will require nonessential work and gatherings to stop from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in counties assigned to the "purple" tier, the most-restrictive tier in the state's pandemic reopening system.
A total of 41 counties are in the purple tier as of Monday, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
According to Newsom, the order will begin Saturday, Nov. 21, and last through Dec. 21.
"The virus is spreading at a pace we haven't seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge," Newsom said in a statement. "We are sounding the alarm."
Newsom first floated the possibility of a curfew order on Monday when the state moved more than two dozen counties into the purple tier due to rising coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations across the state.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state's Health and Human Services Department, said the state chose to issue a curfew to prevent the need for further, even tighter restrictions.
"We've seen in the past that COVID goes from zero to 60 mph very quickly," he said during a briefing on the new stay-at-home order, adding that "all tools are on the table."
Ghaly suggested that issuing a curfew would discourage state residents from engaging in higher-risk, late-night activities like going to a taproom or restaurant, even with restrictions limiting seating to only outdoors.
Preventing such actions, he said, could save the lives of people who may be more vulnerable to developing serious complications from contracting the virus.
"Maybe you're a worker who's out at night with a group of friends, outdoors even, and you contract COVID and then you go the next day to work and it is passed on, maybe not the next day but a day or two later, to a vulnerable resident in a congregate care facility," he said. "Exactly the situation we want to avoid."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently endorsed the potential use of a curfew to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Fauci, asked about the potential of a curfew on Tuesday while receiving an award from San Jose State University, said conditions can vary from county to county and city to city, but that he supported the general premise.
"You don't like to be very prescriptive," he said. "But, sometimes when you're dealing with the seriousness of the situation right now, I leave it up to the good judgment of the leaders of your states and your cities to make that (decision)."
Ghaly said the state's decision to issue the monthlong curfew had more to do with the state's current surge in cases rather than the potential for large gatherings during Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays.
"In many ways, the days and weeks to come will be different than in years past," he said. "And, in order for us to do the best we can with controlling this virus, we're going to have to keep our guard up, make some tough choices."
Watch California Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly discuss the status of COVID-19 across the state at a Nov. 19 video call conference:
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.