SACRAMENTO (Reuters) – California on Sunday ordered the closure of several bars, the first major rollback of efforts to reopen the economy in the most populous state of the United States as cases nationwide rise to record levels day after day.
PHOTO PHOTO: A TV broadcasts news in an empty bar in the downtown Los Angeles area after Californian governor Gavin Newsom issued an unprecedented “stay at home” order that directed 40 million state residents to squat in the their homes for the foreseeable future during the global outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in California, the United States, on March 20, 2020. REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni
Governor Gavin Newsom’s order to close the bars in Los Angeles and six other counties followed the moves of Texas and Florida to close all the bars on Friday. Public health officials in California and across the nation have identified the bars as the riskiest non-essential assets currently open, the state said.
Alcohol consumption reduces inhibitions that lead to less compliance with the use of masks and separation, health officials warn. The bars are also generally noisy, and require users to scream, which spreads the droplets more widely.
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. In many of these states, children under the age of 35 accounted for a large percentage of new cases. Other tests are turning positive, up to 25% in some areas.
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.
On Sunday, Pence traveled to Texas and attended a service at Dallas’ First Baptist Church, where a 100-member choir sang without masks. Pence wore a face cover while sitting in the audience, according to a video.
In early March, a church choir in Washington state gathered for rehearsal before the state issued a residence order at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that 87% of singers have developed COVID-19. Two choir members died.
Pence urged Texans to follow local laws requiring masks and said cities and counties in about half of the state require face coverings in public. Pence defended Trump’s refusal to ask all Americans directly to wear masks.
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 Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Additional reports from Susan Heavey in Washington and Maria Caspani in New York; Written by Lisa Shumakmer; Curated by Daniel Wallis