Coronavirus spike prompts big California about face on reopenings


Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that 19 counties - including Los Angeles, which is now battling a surge in COVID-19 cases - will be ordered to shut down several indoor operations for three weeks.

Last weekend, Newsom ordered bars in Los Angeles County and six other counties to close - a move which San Diego and Orange Counties followed this week. That means closing indoor dining at restaurants and indoor entertainment venues like arcades, bowling alleys, and movie theaters, as well as card rooms, museums, and zoos, the LA Times reports.

"We'll be looking at the health orders in relation to indoor vs. outdoor activities, the Fourth of July", Newsom said Tuesday.

But Newsom said seven state agencies with regulatory authority would target non-compliant businesses, including the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Highway Patrol. Neighboring Ventura County is also on the watchlist, but San Luis Obispo County is not.

The new guidance will remain in place for at least three weeks.

He reported 110 COVID-19 deaths in the state in the preceding 24 hours, a 40 percent increase in positivity rates, and 5,898 new cases on June 30, pushing the state total towards 234,000, second-highest in the U.S.

Newsom further said that people must not become complacent when they go to family gatherings, and to keep wearing masks at all times.

There are 19 counties on the monitoring list. In counties that close local beaches, the state also will close state beaches.

Local governments around the state have responded with a patchwork of closures during what is usually the summer's busiest weekend. Next door, in Orange County, which previously attracted the governor's ire for beach crowding and has emerged as a hotbed for backlash against health officials, most beaches are open, including popular Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

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NEW: All parking facilities at state beaches in Southern CA and the Bay Area will be CLOSED for the upcoming weekend.#COVID19 does not take 4th of July off.

The new closures illustrate growing geographic divides in the pandemic's California toll.

The state's worst outbreak is in Imperial County, an agricultural center along the border with Mexico.

Other states, including Texas and Florida, have also paused their reopenings after seeing similar spikes in coronavirus cases. This is the largest number of people hospitalized since early May.

Much like we saw at the start of the pandemic, we can probably expect orders to shift and change on a day-to-day basis again. On Monday he hinted a that that measure might be in the future for more counties in the state.

"None of this should surprise any of us", Newsom said. "But on the flip side if that is what we need to do to. reduce the risk of infection, then we really don't have much of a choice".

Before Newsom announced the new restrictions today, he also extended some programs to ease the harsh economic toll of the virus, though largely keeping with a strategy to leave it up to local officials to decide what to ultimately implement. "Avoid confined space, crowds, and contact with others not in your household, and continue to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19".

California has confirmed close to 223,000 infections, a almost 50% increase over two weeks ago that has been driven in part by the state's ability to now test more than 100,000 people per day.