(CNN) — More than 28 million Californians live in counties where restaurant dining rooms, bars and other indoor facilities are being told to stay shut or close as the number of coronavirus cases continue to worry state officials.
The closures affect 19 counties representing 72% of the state’s population, and include restaurants, museums, zoos, movie theaters, family entertainment, and card rooms, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
The governor’s announcement included bars, pubs, breweries and wineries that don’t also serve food. Restaurants can serve takeout meals.
“Bottom line is, the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” said Newsom, who added that the percentage of people who test positive is rising.
These restrictions will remain in place for at least three weeks, Newsom said.
Newsom said states beaches will only be closed in areas where local governments have closed theirs. But parking lots at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will be closed.
Weekend could be a ‘perfect storm’
As the Fourth of July weekend nears, an infectious disease doctor said the United States could be heading into “the perfect storm” for a spike in coronavirus cases.
“It’s set up a perfect storm: the combination of travel, the combination of reopening — perhaps in some cases, too early — and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines,” Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, said during a Wednesday briefing by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
According to a Johns Hopkins University’s tally, there have been at least 2.6 million cases of coronavirus in the US with at least 127,681 deaths.
Barocas said cases spiked in some states after Memorial Day. Thirty-seven states now trend upward in the number of cases from last week and only two states, New Jersey and Rhode Island, trend downward.
“I’m very concerned, especially given this coming weekend, that the same types of spikes, the same types of surges could be seen — not just in the places that are currently experiencing surges, but in places that have already experienced surges and in ones that haven’t yet,” he said.
Dr. Ricardo Franco, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “this surge in our prolonged first wave of infections, it’s very difficult to predict what might happen and the Fourth of July weekend could play a big role in this.”
Other states order bars to shut down
Some states with hotspots are taking action in an attempt to reduce crowds by shutting down bars, closing beaches and canceling fireworks displays.
Nineteen states have changed or paused reopening plans because of spikes in coronavirus cases, and bars have come in for particular attention.
“If you have bars, you have music,” said Franco. “If you have music, you want to socialize. And you want to speak louder than usual so you can overcome the background noise.”
All those factors can increase the spread of the virus, he said.
Texas, Colorado and Delaware have ordered closures or limits on bar operations.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also gave bars nothing to cheer when he appeared before Congress this week.
“Bars: really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that,” Fauci said Tuesday.
In hard-hit South Florida, beaches from Palm Beach to Key West will be shut down for the holiday weekend.
One hopeful note from the other end of the country: New York City beaches have opened for swimming.
‘Dimmer switch’ approach questioned
The “dimmer switch” approach some mayors and governors are taking to contain the spread of coronavirus in their cities and states — like slowing down the reopening of restaurants — will not work for areas of the country seeing a large increase of new coronavirus cases, CNN contributor Erin Bromage said.
Speaking Wednesday on “CNN Newsroom,” Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, said that states like Arizona, Texas and Florida need to take stronger action.
“The dimmer switch approach works when you have case numbers under control,” Bromage said. “We saw New Jersey, we saw New York governors both say we might slow down on reopening restaurants — that’s a dimmer switch.
“When you get into Arizona numbers, Texas numbers, Florida numbers, that tiny adjustment that you make is not going to have the effect on turning those new infections around fast enough. You’ve got to come in with more of a hammer rather than a switch to control this now.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that a return to indoor dining in the city, originally scheduled for July 6, will be postponed.
Fauci says 100,000 cases a day possible
Fauci offered a bleak warning in his testimony: Americans need to take sensible measures to curb the spread or risk seeing 100,000 new cases a day.
“We are now having 40,000 cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around,” he told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing.
Turning it around will take a coordinated, collaborative effort, he said at the hearing, not the “disparate responses” the nation has shown so far.
But without strong national leadership, that coordination may be up to mayors and governors, according to Dr. William Haseltine, a former biotechnology executive and professor at Harvard’s medical and public health schools.
“This situation is now so grim and is getting worse by the day,” he said. “From now on, they know it’s in their backyard and their job to take care of it if no one else does.”
Most of the US has the pandemic in their backyard, with only two states — New Jersey and Rhode Island — showing a downward trend in cases from last week. The surge comes as restriction-fatigued Americans increasingly gather in large groups for summer recreation.
Several states have experienced spikes in cases.
California’s coronavirus cases reached 9,740 in a single day on Wednesday — by far the highest recorded in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
Arizona, another hotspot, on Wednesday reported 4,878 new cases of Covid-19 as well as 88 deaths from the disease over the last 24 hours, state data shows.
Those numbers are a new record high for both new daily cases and deaths since the state started posting data publicly in mid-March.
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