(Reuters) – California on Sunday ordered some bars closed as that state and a dozen others face the worst increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
FILE PHOTO: people eat outside LENA Winebar as restaurants are allowed to offer alfresco dining as part of the reopening of Phase 2 during the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood in New York City, United States, June 27, 2020. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly
The order of Governor Gavin Newsom to close bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles, is the first major step back in efforts to reopen the economy in the most populous state in the United States. On Friday, Texas and Florida ordered all bars closed.
The increase in COVID-19 cases was most pronounced in several southern and western states that did not follow the recommendations of health officials to wait for a steady decline in cases before reopening their economies.
For a third consecutive day on Saturday, the number of confirmed cases in the United States jumped by over 40,000, one of the largest waves in the world.
Even in states where cases have been falling for weeks, bars have been a source of outbreaks. A bar in East Lansing, Michigan has been linked to more than 85 cases, according to local health officials who claim the number is likely to increase.
In addition to the bars, Texas closed tubing and rafting activities on Friday to try to avoid crowds such as those seen Saturday in Arizona along the Salt River east of Phoenix.
When temperatures rose to over 100 Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), dozens of people climbed into inflatable air chambers with coolers and took water to escape the heat. Very few wore masks.
Some Florida beaches are also closing in anticipation of the holidays on July 4th next weekend, which would have attracted large crowds.
In Arizona, cases have risen by 267% so far in June and rose by a record 3,857 cases on Sunday, the eighth record hike this month. Georgia reported a record hike of 2,225 cases on Sunday. Fifteen states, including California, Florida and Texas, have experienced record hikes in last week’s cases.
WEAR A MASK
Just a day later, he expressed a note of optimism about the United States response to the pandemic and said the country is in “a much better place”, Vice President Mike Pence canceled events to campaign for the re-election of the Republican President. Donald Trump in Florida and Arizona because of the outbreak, campaign officials said on Saturday.
In an interview with CBS, Pence said he was confident that there was enough healthcare supplies and capacity to deal with the spike in cases.
He also defended Trump’s refusal to ask Americans directly to wear masks or to wear one in public, although Texas Governor Greg Abbott and others say that widespread use of masks will be critical to reopening the economy.
“We believe that people should wear masks where social removal is not possible, wherever indicated by state or local authorities,” Pence told CBS.
United States House Democrat spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi criticized the administration’s response to the pandemic that killed over 125,000 Americans. Sunday told ABC News that the mandate for the use of masks across the country was long overdue.
Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday, according to a Reuters count, marking a milestone in the spread of respiratory disease that has so far killed nearly half a million people in seven months.
(GRAPHIC: Monitoring of the new coronavirus in the United States – here)
Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington, Maria Caspani in New York and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Written by Lisa Shumakmer; Curated by Daniel Wallis