California saw another record-high number of new coronavirus cases Wednesday (July 1), prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to tighten his lockdown orders, particularly in 19 counties, ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.
Newsom’s new lockdown measures, coming on the back of a 46.2% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and a 41% increase in ICU patients since the reopening and easing of restrictions, will affect 72% of the state’s population.
The state’s COVID-19 website reported 9,740 new cases Wednesday, a 4.4% increase from Tuesday, taking the total to 232,657 cases. The state’s positivity rate, which is the percentage of total tests returning positive, has risen in June to roughly 6%.
Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Orange, along with 16 other counties, will be in the County Monitoring List for the next three days. Bars, movie theaters, museums, zoos, family entertainment sites and card rooms have been ordered closed effective July 1 for the next three weeks.
Restaurants, however, are not covered by the order yet but owners have been told to shift their operations to an outdoor setting.
“This doesn’t mean restaurants shut down but we’re trying to take these concentrated activities and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus,” Newsom said in a press conference.
The virus is still spreading at a rate that is “concerning,” prompting the new restrictions. The governor said the new lockdown orders will see “targeted” enforcement.
Newsom also didn’t mandate the closure of beaches for the Independence Day holiday weekend but shut down the parking sites all over the Southern California beaches. The governor also asked counties to cancel any planned firework shows on July 4 and Los Angeles County has made this order official.
State multi-agency strike teams, composed of the California Highway Patrol, Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Business Oversight, will crack down on establishments that will continue to operate and violate the new orders.
California’s rollback comes more than 100 days since Newsom imposed the “Safer at Home” order in March that helped the state avoid a public health crisis like in New York. California restarted its economy by May but local officials said the easing of restrictions didn’t come with vigilance over social distancing and use of face mask.
“I hope you will reconsider those gatherings with people you don’t live with or who are not in your immediate household,” the governor reminded the people of the state before the weekend holiday.