California Reorders Shutdowns on Indoor Activity As COVID-19 Cases Spike

Gavin Newsom forced to backtrack on reopening his state. Photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press/Pool/Shutterstock

In a landmark response to rapidly spiking COVID-19 cases across the country in recent weeks, Gavin Newsom, governor of America’s most populous state, announced a series of mandatory restrictions on indoor activities for all of California and more stringent restrictions on the 30 (out of 53) counties with the most dangerous trends. The Bay City News Service summarizes the steps Newsom took:

The state ordered all 53 counties to close indoor activities at restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums, card rooms and all bars. Each county on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list … must also close gyms, places of worship, offices in non-critical sectors, hair and nail salons and indoor malls in addition to the statewide closure.

The 30 “monitoring list” counties contain approximately 80 percent of the state’s population, including Alameda (Oakland), Napa, Sonoma, Sacramento, Marin, Fresno, and Monterey counties in the northern and central parts of the state and most counties in Southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego.

Newsom’s actions were taken in the midst of troubling developments in the Golden State:

Coronavirus hospitalizations have risen by about 28 percent over the last two weeks, from 5,077 on June 29 to 6,485 as of Sunday. In the last week, the state’s seven-day average of positive coronavirus tests rose from 7,876 on July 6 to 8,211 on Monday. The state’s positivity rate has also continued trending north of 7 percent even as the number of tests across the state has surpassed 100,000 per day.

In the early days of the pandemic, California was among the toughest states in imposing restrictions on activities associated with the spread of the coronavirus. But last month it began allowing local governments to relax restrictions, as the Los Angeles Times points out:

The setback comes after the state said June 12 that dine-in restaurants, retail stores, bars, religious services, and gyms could reopen with modifications in counties that met the state’s guidelines. Newsom said the move Monday to resurrect tough restrictions was a response to a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state.

The governor ordered tougher restrictions ahead of the July 4 holiday on indoor activities for counties experiencing a spike in infections. Counties are placed on a watch list when they experience a rise in hospitalization rates, community transmission or declining hospital capacity, with three consecutive days of troublesome trends requiring the area to add the restrictions.

Outdoor dining will still be allowed statewide.

In a separate development, the two largest public-school districts in the state have announced they are abandoning plans to resume in-person instruction in the fall, as the New York Times reports:

The Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts, which together enroll some 825,000 students, are the largest so far in the country to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August … “There’s a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish,” said Austin Beutner, the school superintendent in Los Angeles.

You can bet California will again attract some new hostile attention from the president’s Twitter account.

California Reverses Reopenings As COVID-19 Cases Spike