California locking back down as COVID cases surge

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California Gov. Newsom holds news briefing on coronavirus/COVID-19 Stopping short of a state order on Sunday, California Gov. Newsom called for home isolation for all seniors and those with compromised health, for bars to close, and for restaurants to limit capacity (Photo courtesy Fox News)

(FOX News) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new round of lockdown measures Wednesday, ordering 19 counties to close all indoor operations for several business sectors, including restaurants, as the state grapples with a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

In addition to bars being forced to shut down temporarily, restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment venues, zoos, museums and cardrooms must halt operations in selected communities, Newsom said Wednesday.

Businesses can continue to operate if they can move operations outdoors.

Newsom’s order came as the state reported its highest daily COVID-19 count Monday with 8,000 infections and multiple days with new highs. Hospitalizations related to the virus have soared over the past two weeks to 43 percent, he said Wednesday.

Statewide, over 232,600 cases have been reported, in addition to over 6,000 deaths, according to the state Department of Public Health. The infection rate marked an increase of nearly 50 percent, due in part to more testing.

“This doesn’t mean restaurants are shut down,” Newsom, a Democrat, said at a briefing.

“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.”

The list of affected counties ran up and down the state: Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura counties.

Last week, Newsom asked officials in Imperial County — a farming region on the U.S.-Mexico border — to impose more restrictions after a surge in infections, resulting in a 23-percent positivity rate.

The county Board of Supervisors agreed Monday to close parks and non-essential businesses, except for curbside pickup.

Death toll

The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 570,000 people worldwide.

Over 12.9 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.3 million diagnosed cases and at least 135,425 deaths.