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California's governor ordered the shutdown on Monday of bars and indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, and some other businesses as hospitalizations spike amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new statewide orders after about half of the state's 58 counties were forced to shut down those activities due to local increases in COVID-19.
In addition, 30 counties — including Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Sacramento, and Contra Costa — which make up about 80% of the state's population, are being ordered to close indoor fitness centers, worship services, personal care services, hair salons, and malls.
"This virus is not going away anytime soon," Newsom said, adding that despite some officials' hopes that the spread would wane in the summer months, that obviously hasn't been the case.
"We’re still seeing an increase in the positivity rate, community transmission ... so that's why it's incumbent on all us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon until there is a vaccine and/or an effective therapy," he said.
Over the weekend, California's COVID-19 death toll passed the 7,000 mark as the state reported a seven-day average of 8,664 new cases per day — up from last week's average of 6,987 new cases per day. The state has reported a total of more than 320,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
The surge in new cases, which officials have said is not the result of an increase in testing, comes about two months after the state began to reopen certain sectors of the economy following a stabilization in ICU and hospitalization numbers.
"We were able to suppress the spread of this virus ... in the beginning. We're going to do that again — there's no doubt in my mind — but at the same time that can't happen by demanding something of you," Newsom said, reiterating that it's up to individuals to socially distance and wear face coverings. "We'll get through this."
Officials have attributed the rapid increase in cases in part to young people who think they're invincible, as well as Californians mingling with people outside their own households and not physically distancing themselves or wearing masks in public.
On Monday, Newsom again urged residents to "limit your mixing with people outside your household," and said that if they do see people outside their households, to do so outside.
In announcing the new orders, the governor cited evidence that COVID-19 is much more likely to spread in indoor settings rather than outdoors.
"The impact of the spread of the virus outside we believe is more favorable than mixing with individuals for an extended period of time … inside where you don't have the air circulation," he said.
The order comes the same day as Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts, two of California's largest, announced they will start the 2020–21 school year online due to concerns about the recent spike in cases.
“One fact is clear: Those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither,” the districts said in a joint statement released Monday morning. “The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control.”