California Shuts Bars in L.A., Other Counties, as Virus Cases Climb

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Some California residents hoping to celebrate Independence Day in a bar will now have to change their plans.

Bars are required to shut in seven counties — including Los Angeles — and they’re recommended to close in eight others, including Sacramento and Santa Barbara, following a surge in coronavirus cases, according to an order by Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday.

The number of new cases climbed by 4,810 yesterday in the Golden State, almost eight times the additions reported by New York, which has the highest number of infections in the country. While the latest data from California is down from a few record-breaking days in the past week, they’re still significantly higher than in May, when the daily case count was barely exceeding 3,000.

“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step.”

Los Angeles County remains the epicenter of the outbreak in California, reporting an additional 2,542 cases, more than half of the new infections statewide.

“While it’s disappointing to take a step back on our economic recovery journey, it’s critical that we protect the health of our residents and protect the capacity in our health-care system,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director public health, said in a statement.

Earlier this week, saloons in Texas were also ordered to close, and Florida suspended alcohol consumption at bars. The two states have become new hot spots as cases there continue to surge. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the surge was in part due to young people socializing in indoor environment with air-conditioning as the weather gets warmer.

Alcohol consumption reduces inhibition and impairs judgment, leading to reduced compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing measures. Bars are also generally louder environments where people raise their voice, with greater projection of droplets, the guidance by California warned.

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