Beaches, bars, indoor dining close in LA County
FOR the sixth time in less than two weeks, daily coronavirus cases have reached a new single-day high as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.
The United States reported a new high of 55,220 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, July 3, surpassing Wednesday’s high of 52,789.
According to data by John Hopkins University, at least 128,574 people have died from the coronavirus so far.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday that given the less-than-stellar trajectory of coronavirus cases in the U.S., it was important that people follow public health measures that were made to keep people safe.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction,” Fauci said in an interview with the Journal of the American Association on Thursday.
“The best way, as a vehicle to opening the country in a safe way, is to prudently use public health measures,” added Fauci. “It’s not public health against opening.”
While many states saw some of their highest numbers in June, public health officials are seeing July as a month to potentially outpace those numbers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projected nearly 148,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. by July 25.
“The state-level ensemble forecasts suggest that the number of new deaths over the next four weeks in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming will likely exceed the number reported over the last four weeks,” the CDC said on its website’s forecast page.
“For other states, the number of new deaths is expected to be similar to the number seen in the previous in four weeks or to decrease slightly,” it added.
Admiral Brett P. Giroir, assistant secretary of health overseeing the government’s testing response, warned of surges to come when speaking to members of Congress on Thursday.
“We are not flattening the curve right now. The curve is still going up,” said Giroir.
Taking into account the increase in testing, he added, “There is no question that the more testing you get the more you will uncover, but we believe this is a real increase in cases because the percent positives are going up.”
Also on Thursday, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization, emphasized that young people — especially those with obesity and poor health habits — are vulnerable to severe complications.
“We should not become complacent that it’s fine for young people to get infected because there is a subset, particularly those with obesity, those with habits like smoking, for example, who are at a higher risk of complications and death,” said Swaminathan.
Return to closures ahead of Fourth of July holiday
As reopening phases stall across the country, many closures have also returned and will likely mean changes to people’s Fourth of July celebration plans.
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday urged Californians to turn to their “better angels” when making holiday plans and continue following public health precautions.
“We’re not going into everybody’s backyard and enforcing,” said Newsom. “We’re just encouraging people to be safe, to be thoughtful about themselves and others.”
On Wednesday, Newsom said that parking lots at state beaches would be closed throughout most of California for the Fourth of July weekend.
The order follows beach closures in Los Angeles that were announced on Monday and will be in effect from Friday morning, July 3 to Monday morning, July 6. Ventura County and other Southern California city councils followed suit in deciding to close beaches.
Newsom also ordered bars to close and halted indoor dining services in restaurants in Los Angeles and 18 other counties including Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
“This doesn’t mean restaurants are shut down,” said Newsom. “It means that we’re trying to take the activities, as many activities as we can — these mixed activities, these concentrated activities — and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.”
Other establishments ordered to close include movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms. The orders are expected to be in place for at least three weeks.
Los Angeles public health officials also ordered all major Fourth of July fireworks shows to be cancelled.
In light of the changes, Newsom said Fourth of July as a holiday was not cancelled.
“Patriotism, at least in a COVID-19 environment, can be expressed a little bit differently with consideration of our independence again from COVID-19,” said Newsom.
He emphasized that masks and keeping safe physical distances still needed to be observed.
“That needs to come with conditions and considerations on wearing masks and making sure we’re physically distanced,” said Newsom.
In some Los Angeles cities like West Hollywood and Santa Monica, local officials have allowed fines to be given to those not wearing a mask in public in an effort to control the spread of the virus.
“It’s a sign of someone who gives a damn,” Newsom said on Tuesday. “It’s a sign of someone who wants to solve a problem.”