California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all bars to close immediately in seven counties across the state – including Los Angeles – citing a rapid spread of coronavirus in the last few weeks.
Newsom’s decision to roll-back reopening efforts, which began just under a month ago, comes two days after Republican governors in Texas and Florida ordered similar closures in an attempt to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The decision was announced by the governor’s state public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell on Sunday afternoon, just two weeks after bars were permitted to reopen in California on June 12.
Coronavirus has now infected more than 2.5million people in the US and killed 125,000, with cases rising by more than 40,000 on Sunday for the third day in a row.
Those dire figures prompted Health and Human Services Alex Azar to warn that ‘the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control.’
California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all bars to close immediately in seven counties across the state – including Los Angeles – citing a rapid spread of coronavirus in the last few days
The seven counties immediately impacted by the bar closure order are Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial.
All of the listed counties, except for LA, are located in the Central Valley, which has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus infection rates in the last two weeks.
Eight other counties have been advised to implement similar closures, however were not ordered to do so at this time. Among those counties is Santa Clara, Riverside and Sacramento.
‘Californians must remain vigilant against this virus,’ Newsom said in a statement. ‘COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger. That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.’
The counties immediately affected by Sunday’s order were decided by daily reports about the spread of COVID-19, state officials said.
Counties that have been on the state’s watch list for between three and 14 days are being asked to close bars. Those who’ve been on the watch list for more than 14 days are being ordered to do so.
‘We are actively monitoring COVID-19 across the state and working closely with counties where there are increased rates and concerning patterns of transmission,’ Dr. Angell said in her statement.
‘Closing bars in these counties is one of a number of targeted actions counties are implementing across our state to slow the virus’ spread and reduce risk.’
Governor Newsom’s order is the first major rollback of efforts to reopen California’s economy.
Newsom allowed bars to reopen in the state on June 12 but gave county health officials the authority to keep them shut as long as they saw fit.
The vast majority of California’s 58 counties subsequently allowed bars to reopen, including Los Angeles which moved forward with the plans on June 19.
California issued guidelines asking bars to maintain a social distance between patrons, remove at-bar seating and turn down music volume to mitigate the need for shouting – which reportedly expels droplets at greater distances.
A Big Dean’s employee checks customers temperature before letting them in the bar and restaurant amid the coronavirus pandemic in Santa Monica, California
Earlier this month, Newsom also ordered all Californians to wear face masks in public and during ‘high-risk settings’.
However, photographs that have emerged of bars and nightclubs in the weeks since have shown large crowds of people gathered together without masks on and standing in packed lines without social distancing measures in place.
Several bars in Sacramento have even closed of their own volition after learning COVID-19 had been spread within their premises.
Coronavirus cases across the state have now topped 211,000, with nearly 6,000 deaths. Hospitalizations and infections rates continue to surge too, with officials citing a number of causes – among them is business reopenings and private gatherings.
On Friday, Newsom said he was recommending that Imperial County implement stricter stay-at-home orders after it continued to report the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rate of anywhere else in the state, as well as the highest number of tests.
Imperial County’s Board of Advisors made no immediate decision to order businesses to close down, A meeting with a state delegation for how to proceed was held Saturday but no decision was publicly made by the time of Newsom’s order Sunday.
In San Bernardino County, officials have warned that its hospitals are fast approaching ‘surge capacity’, with plans being made to open alternative care sites should the infection rate continue as it is.
Similarly, in Los Angeles County, large increases in confirmed cases and hospitalizations have left LA at a ‘critical moment’ in the fight against the pandemic, with eased stay-at-home orders now in jeopardy should the current trend continue.
Los Angeles County public health officials on Saturday reported 2,169 new coronavirus cases.
‘If we can’t find it in us to follow these mandates, including wearing face coverings and distancing when around others, we jeopardize our ability to move forward on the recovery journey,’ county health director Barbara Ferrer said in a Saturday statement. ‘Our collective responsibility is to take immediate action, as individuals and businesses, to reverse the trends we are experiencing.’
Newsom allowed bars to reopen in the state on June 12 but gave county health officials the authority to keep them shut as long as they saw fit
The vast majority of California’s 58 counties subsequently allowed bars to reopen, including Los Angeles which moved forward with the plans on June 19
The total number of infections has now surpassed 2.5 million in the United States, For a third consecutive day on Saturday, the number of confirmed US cases rose by more than 40,000 – one of the largest surges in the world
Only two states, Connecticut and Rhode Island, reported a drop in infection rates on Sunday.
A rise in documented cases was reported in a staggering 36 states, including Florida, which some experts are tipping to become the next epicentre of the virus, after it reported 9,585 new cases Saturday and 8,500 more Sunday.
Saturday’s total, a single-day state record since the start of the pandemic in March, rivals that of New York’s peak of daily cases recorded in early April.
The new cases bring the statewide total to 141,075. Florida is now reporting 3,419 coronavirus related deaths, which is an increase of 29 since Saturday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has insisted there is nothing to worry about and ‘nothing has changed’ in the last week, blaming the state’s troubling surge as the result of a ‘test dump’.
And inhabitants of the sunshine state appear unfazed, with the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases doing little to deter thousands from flocking to beaches all over Florida.
Bars across the state were ordered to stop serving alcohol on Friday. Under the ban, businesses that rake in more than half of their sales from alcohol can still sell drinks in a to-go capacity.
Another COVID-19 hot-spot that has emerged in the south since businesses were permitted to reopen in recent weeks is Texas.
The state set a record for coronavirus-related hospitalizations for the 16th day in a row on Saturday, with 5,523 patients being treated.
Despite the ominous statistics, hundreds of tubers were seen floating in close proximity on the Comal River in New Braunfels.
As coronavirus cases soar in Houston, the city’s paramedics say they’re facing hour-long wait times when transferring patients from ambulances into the hospital.
Coronavirus cases across the state have now topped 211,000. Hospitalizations and infections rates continue to surge too, with officials citing a number of causes – among them is reopenings
Bars in Florida were ordered to stop serving alcohol on Friday. Under the ban, businesses that rake in more than half of their sales from alcohol can still sell drinks in a to-go capacity.
Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña told KHOU that transfer times had doubled or tripled in some cases as the department grapples with spiking calls for service and a shortage of first responders.
‘The longer it takes us to service those critical calls, it is going to cost us lives,’ he told the news station. ‘Our system is getting strained.’
Coronavirus cases have skyrocketed in Texas since the beginning of June, with Houston emerging as the state’s epicentre.
Harris County, which encompasses the city, raised its COVID-19 threat indicator to the highest level last week, issuing an emergency alert which said the outbreak was ‘severe and uncontrolled’.
Intensive care units at Houston’s Texas Medical Center neared full capacity over the weekend, and health officials reported record hospitalizations statewide.
Hospital executives said last week that they were prepared to deal with the influx of patients by scaling back nonessential procedures to free up beds.
However, Marc Boon, president of Houston Methodist Hospital urged the public to take action, too, to prevent the system from becoming overwhelmed.
‘The time is now for everybody to dramatically change their behaviors to get this virus under control,’ Boom said, ‘so that our hospitals for the weeks to come are there and able to handle this.’
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new executive order on Friday scaling back on reopening Texas after a significant surge in coronavirus cases. Starting at noon, bars and breweries were ordered to close, except for to-go services.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new executive order on Friday scaling back on reopening Texas after a significant surge in coronavirus cases. Starting at noon, bars and breweries were ordered to close, except for to-go services
In a letter, the organization said: ‘We support our members in the constitutional right to protest by keeping your businesses open’ (pictured: Kevin Shipp, operating partner of Cedar Street Courtyard, closes his bar on West 4th Street in Austin, Texas)
The move is said to have angered the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance who said they will be filing a lawsuit against the state regarding the executive order
Abbott voiced regret about prematurely reopening the state to KIVA, insisting: ‘If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the re-opening of bars’
From Monday, restaurants, which had been operating at 75 percent dine-in capacity, will also have to scale back their operations back to 50 percent, following Abbot’s order.
‘I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of Covid-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others,’ Abbot said announcing the measure. ‘The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business.’
Abbott voiced regret about prematurely reopening the state to KIVA, insisting: ‘If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the re-opening of bars.
‘People go to bars to get close and to drink and to socialise, and that’s the kind of thing that stokes the spread of the coronavirus,’ he said.
But the move is said to have angered the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance who said they will be filing a lawsuit against the state regarding the executive order.
In a letter, the organization said: ‘We support our members in the constitutional right to protest by keeping your businesses open.’
The letter called Abbott’s decision ‘irresponsible and shameful’, adding that members have voiced anger about being forced to shutter their business while salons and restaurants are allowed to remain open.
TBNA said it is providing legal counsel to any business owners that are fined, charged or have their licenses suspended for remaining open.