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California won't tell public virus data, says 'would mislead and create greater uncertainty'

California has had some of the toughest lockdown restrictions, with 98% of population recently under regional stay-at-home orders.

Updated: January 22, 2021 - 3:28pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

With the highest cases in the country and some of the strictest lockdown restrictions in place, California leaders are now saying key data on the virus is not being made public because it would 'mislead' the public.

Tight restrictions were put in place due to rising cases after Thanksgiving and Christmas, and cases were expected to continue to rise due to holiday travel, according to the Associated Press.

With no end in sight, 98% of the state's population was recently under stay-at-home orders, when the governor decided to lift restrictions on some areas, yet unable to explain why.

"It was a good surprise, but we just didn’t see it coming," said California Restaurant Association president and CEO Jot Condie. "We just don’t know what happens behind the curtain. It’s created logistical difficulties for the industry."

Outdoor dining, worship services, hair and nail salons and other businesses are now allowed to reopen in 13 counties in the greater Sacramento region.

"At the moment the projections are not being shared publicly," Department of Public Health spokeswoman Ali Bay said regarding the state's ICU capacity predictions. 

"These fluid, on-the-ground conditions cannot be boiled down to a single data point – and to do so would mislead and create greater uncertainty for Californians," said state Health and Human Services Agency spokeswoman Kate Folmar.

Models and data from the state have been withheld from the public, and the state's restaurant association president Condie won in court last month after a judge ordered Los Angeles County to release data supporting the restaurant dining closure order, which the county acknowledged they did not have. 

"They’re making projections and decisions that have great consequences to people's lives," Condie said. "It's a public agency, so it's just curious why they wouldn’t share the data, especially with the local health officers. They need advance warning as well."