LOS ANGELES: California marked a record spike in new COVID-19 infections on Monday (Jun 29), a Reuters tally showed, as Los Angeles reported an “alarming” one-day surge that put it to over 100,000 cases.
Los Angeles has become a new epicenter in the pandemic as coronavirus cases and hospitalisations surge there despite California Governor Gavin Newsom’s strict orders requiring bars to close and residents to wear masks in nearly all public spaces.
“The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalisations signals that we, as a community, need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement announcing the sharp rise. “Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our healthcare system and seeing even more devastating illness and death.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a “hard pause” on when movie theatres, theme parks and other entertainment venues can reopen. Los Angeles County is the biggest movie theatre market in the United States.
Los Angeles County said its beaches will be closed for the Independence Day weekend and fireworks displays will be banned.
Statewide positive tests for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, rose by at least 7,418 in California Monday to nearly 223,000, the biggest one-day increase since tracking began. Los Angeles County, with a population of 10 million, has recorded 100,000 cases.
California is among a number of US states including Florida, Texas and Arizona battling a new wave of infections as the nation emerges from weeks of clamp-downs on residents and businesses.
ARIZONA HIT HARD
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Monday ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theatres and water parks for at least 30 days. Ducey also delayed the start of public schools until at least Aug 17. “Our expectation is that next week our numbers will be worse,” Ducey said at an afternoon news conference. Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Phoenix on Wednesday to discuss efforts to fight the pandemic’s resurgence.
Texas and Florida ordered the closure of all their recently reopened bars on Friday.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Monday indoor dining will not resume on Thursday as planned and would be postponed indefinitely.
In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly imposed a statewide mandate requiring the wearing of masks in public spaces, which she said was necessary to avoid another shutdown.
Beaches in Florida’s Broward County and Palm Beach County will not open for the Jul 3-5 holiday weekend, officials said on Sunday, a blow to residents hoping to celebrate Independence Day there. Miami-Dade County has also announced beach closures for the holiday weekend.
AMC, the largest US movie theatre chain, on Monday said it was pushing back the reopening of its theatres to Jul 30 from Jul 15.
In June, 22 US states reported record increases in new cases, often multiple times, including Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Utah.
Face covering orders have become a political issue, with some Americans, many of them supporters of President Donald Trump, calling them unconstitutional.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, venue for part of the Republican nominating convention in August, said on Twitter it would be requiring masks in public starting later on Monday.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that Trump “has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests.”
The New York Times reported on Monday that 43 per cent of US deaths from COVID-19 were linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The paper cited its own tracking database.