Yolo County Back in the Purple as California Sets An All-Time High

By David M. Greenwald

The surge that had for some time spared California has hit and hit hard as the Monday daily total topped 13,000 new cases – new high for the pandemic and Yolo County was one of 28 counties to be moved back into the more restrictive purple tier as Governor Newsom once again sounded the alarm.

Governor Newsom announced on Monday that he is “pulling the emergencies brake” and requiring counties to move backward.

“We are sounding the alarm,” said Governor Newsom. “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.”

He said, “That is why we are pulling an emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Now is the time to do all we can – government at all levels and Californians across the state – to flatten the curve again as we have done before.”

The rate of growth now in California is father than it was in July which was the previous peak.

“The data we are seeing is very concerning. We are in the midst of a surge, and time is of the essence. Every day matters and every decision matters,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Personal decisions are critical, and I am I imploring every Californian to stay home if they can, wear a mask whenever they leave their homes, limit mixing, practice physical distancing and wash their hands.”

The move for Yolo County comes less than a week after it remained in the red.  According to the County release, “Yolo County’s adjusted case rate for the November 16 update is 17.4, which is well above the purple tier threshold of seven.”

Sacramento went into the purple last week, but other nearby counties including Solano, Placer and Napa join Yolo this week.

According to the county, “Yolo County has experienced a surge of positive cases recently and Public Health staff are urging residents to exercise personal responsibility by following preventive health measures and avoiding social gatherings.”

“The rapid rise in cases over the last couple of weeks is very concerning,” said Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. “We need to act now to slow the spread of coronavirus or we may soon find our hospitals, like those in other parts of the country, overwhelmed.”

She noted: “I understand that people are tired of COVID restrictions and want this pandemic to be over. But we can’t simply wish it away. We must continue to work hard at the basics of staying home, wearing masks, keeping our distance, not gathering, and washing our hands. I am grateful for all the sacrifices Yolo residents have made to date and am asking them to sacrifice a bit longer in order to save lives.”

A return to the purple tier drastically impacts many local businesses that will now have to close indoor business operations or reduce capacity. Effective November 17, the following businesses will have these restrictions:

  • Family entertainment centers: Outdoors only with modifications
  • Gyms and fitness centers: Outdoors only with modifications
  • Movie theaters: Outdoors only with modifications
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums: Outdoors only with modifications
  • Places of worship: Outdoors only with modifications
  • Retail: Open indoors with a maximum of 25% occupancy
  • Restaurants: Outdoors only with modifications
  • Shopping centers: Open indoors with a maximum of 25% occupancy

“Nobody wants to see business rollbacks, but they are needed right now to keep coronavirus in check,” said Yolo County Public Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. “Shifting high-risk businesses and activities from indoor to outdoor operations will help keep these businesses from contributing to spread of the virus.”

The county said: “Personal care services, nail salons, hair salons and barber shops can still remain open indoors with modifications in the purple tier and must follow the State’s industry guidance.”

Importantly schools that have reopened for in-person or hybrid learning can remain open but schools not reopened would need a waiver to reopen under the purple tier or wait until Yolo County moves back into the red.

California is not alone.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan who has faced protests, court action and a hostile legislature stood at a lectern on Monday to announce new restrictions.

Over 160,000 new cases were reported on Monday as the US surpassed 11 million total cases.

California was joined by Washington and Oregon in addition to Michigan.

A record number of people are hospitals across the country with over 70,000 hospitalized and people dying at a rate of over 1100 per day with experts expecting within a few weeks those numbers to reach record levels.

The pandemic is increasingly penetrating rural areas and swaths of Republican-led states, which is changing the dynamics.  This past week, North Dakota, Utah and now Iowa have imposed mask mandates, curfews at restaurants and bars, and restrictions on indoor and outdoor gathering sizes.

Officials have avoided the most restrictive measures that were used in the spring – complete stay-at-home orders, but some experts warn that may be coming if the numbers are not brought under control.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Keith Olsen

    Governor Newsom announced on Monday that he is “pulling the emergencies brake” and requiring counties to move backward.

    Newsom, the moral authority, do as he says, not as he does:

    Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized Monday for visiting a Napa Valley restaurant with people from other households, saying his behavior contradicted the spirit of the safety guidelines and precautions he has asked Californians to adhere to during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    “I want to apologize to you because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I’ve done my best to do that,” Newsom said. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.”
    Newsom acknowledged that the faux pas may result in a loss of his moral authority on the coronavirus as California experiences a major surge in cases. The governor discussed his own behavior on the same day that he announced a reversal of his reopening plans and ordered 28 counties to return to the purple tier — 94% of Californians will be under the state’s most restrictive guidelines as of Tuesday.


  2. Don Shor

    If Davis was a county, what tier would it be in? Infections in Davis have been proportionally far lower than in the other cities in the county. Woodland, in particular, has a much higher rate of infection. On Nov 15, for example, Yolo reported 56 cases. 4 were in Davis.

    A more thoughtful approach would be to identify hotspots and direct testing and contact tracing resources to those areas and demographic groups.  Would the county consider targeting closures and restrictions to the communities that have actual spikes in infection? New York City is enacting restrictions at the borough or neighborhood level. Since social gatherings seem to be the primary issue (we need data on this point), could they put some teeth in the restrictions (ie., actual enforcement and sanctions such as fines) about that, and publicize methods by which people could report social gatherings anonymously? Would a report be acted on? The County Health Officer has a badge and can enforce things. But if there is a big party on a Saturday night, how does a citizen report it and get results?

      1. Don Shor

        There has been free flow of traffic between the cities of Yolo County thoughout the pandemic, and infection rates in Davis have been substantially lower than in the surrounding communities the whole time.

        1. David Greenwald

          In part because in Davis you rarely see someone without a mask. But also Davis has never been an open island – like it might be if it remained in the red while the rest of the region was purple.

    1. Tia Will


      The current process for enforcement is through cooperation between the health officer and city managers. The city managers communicate these agreements to the local police departments who are responsible for gatherings, parties, and the like within their jurisdictions. Citations can be given and fines set, but as of this morning apparently only three such fines have been levied. It would seem we remain essentially reliant on education and cooperation, which unfortunately has been our approach for the last 8 months with results David has outlined. While this approach might have worked with a situation that had no been so politicized that some people still do not believe it exists, that might have worked. IMO we have been much to passive & I promote a much more proactive effort at this point in time.

      1. Don Shor

        Just a suggestion, since I think you’re participating in their advisory meetings: people should be able to report a gathering to the health agency anonymously, and have that forwarded to the police or sheriff. I think many people would be reticent about calling the police directly to ‘turn in’ a neighbor who is having a big party. A clear link on the Yolo dashboard, and a press release to the local media, would help. I clicked through on the site and found a ‘report a concern’ link, but my guess is that is only monitored during the workday and work week, and it wasn’t easy to find.
        Link here: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/a2796db431b14d9c97086fc6a7172262

        1. Tia Will


          I actually am not a part of any advisory meetings. I just email the supervisors and comment at both BOS and Health Council meetings as a member of the public. I do think your idea is a good one and am happy to raise it.

  3. Alan Miller

    This is exactly what I feared and predicted.  Not that my being right is the important thing here.  By hovering on this razor-edge push-pull between open and close and always reacting to the numbers and pressure, and the nature of this beast always being behind by weeks, what we see and what is happening, this outcome was predictable.  We re-open (a terrible term – implies threat is past) under pressure, and close down after it’s too late.

    The cost to re-open a business is crippling.  “Shifting high-risk businesses and activities from indoor to outdoor operations will help keep these businesses from contributing to spread of the virus.”  This is just as the weather grows cold, so this is going to kill restaurants and others.  What I was saying to people was the worst thing that could happen is all these businesses blow their wad of cash to re-open in warm weather, the virus takes hold again in the fall as predicted, and they have to shut down again, but now have no reserves to re-open, and this time close permanently.  Of course, some will survive, but a lot more will not.

    One of my faves waited and didn’t go through the first up-and-down and is just getting by and may survive this on take-out and a few warm days outside.  Another is just laying dormant — and only incurring property tax and mortgage – maybe trying to hibernate will allow them to reopen when it’s all over – maybe they will die in place.

    I recently watched a video from Australia of politicians talking about their containment efforts.  It was like a different planet.  They were being honest – telling people the truth and being forthright about how this spreads – I ended up watching a 2-hr news conference about a place I don’t even live in because I was so impressed.  They were talking about a single outbreak due do a single gathering and how they were containing it – and how others could avoid this.  True they have the advantage of being a large island and going into summer instead of winter – but they also clearly aren’t a collection of total idiots like Americans.

    Some Asian countries have all but eradicated this thing.  Some western countries have at least gotten this half right.  America is failing.

    We have to be real.  Newsom is now talking about a curfew.  I’m sorry, but night itself isn’t the issue, and that has authoritarian implications that Newsom should avoid.  Let’s be real about what is causing the spread – indoor conditions, family gatherings, failure to mask indoors, parties.  Tackle that head-on and be real – don’t float bad ideas that are just going to cause a backlash.  Whatever we are seeing now is nothing compared to what is actually happening.  In 3-4 weeks, we’ll know what is actually happening today, and my guess is that it isn’t pretty.

    I’m battening down the hatches.  See you all in April.

    1. Bill Marshall

      indoor conditions, family gatherings, failure to mask indoors, parties.  Tackle that head-on and be real

      So, not just co-habitants, but also ‘nuclear families’ in same household, indoors, need to mask 24/7? Stay 6 ft/m apart?  Really?

      There are two extremes on this. Never, ever allow anyone to do something that might remotely spread the virus… and, the virus is false news and the virus disappeared in April, per POTUS… the truth is not on either end… both border on the ‘insane’…

      1. Alan Miller


        So, not just co-habitants, but also ‘nuclear families’ in same household, indoors, need to mask 24/7? Stay 6 ft/m apart?  Really?

        NO.  I actually assume people are intelligent enough that I don’t have to write a medically-accurate footnoted public announcement to post a comment.

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