(Reuters) – California ordered some bars to be closed Sunday as that state and a dozen more face the worst increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
FILE PHOTO: People eat outside LENA Winebar as restaurants can offer cookouts as part of the reopening of Phase 2 during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, USA, June 27, 2020. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly
Governor Gavin Newsom’s order to close bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles, is the first major setback in efforts to reopen the economy in the most populous state in the United States. On Friday, Texas and Florida ordered the closure of all bars.
The increase in COVID-19 cases has been most pronounced in several southern and western states that did not follow the recommendations of health officials to wait for a steady decrease in cases before reopening their economies.
For the third consecutive day on Saturday, the number of confirmed cases in the US increased by more than 40,000, one of the largest waves in the world.
Even in states where cases have been declining 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 say that number is likely to increase.
In addition to the bars, Texas closed the tube and rafting business on Friday to try to avoid crowds like the ones seen on Saturday in Arizona along the Salt River east of Phoenix.
As temperatures rose to more than 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), dozens of people climbed onto inflatable tubes with coolers and jumped into the water to escape the heat. Very few wore masks.
Some Florida beaches are also closing before the July 4 vacation next weekend, which would have drawn large crowds.
In Arizona, cases have increased 267% so far in June and rose by a record 3,857 cases on Sunday, the eighth record increase this month. Georgia reported a record increase of 2,225 cases on Sunday. Fifteen states, including California, Florida and Texas, recorded record increases in cases last week.
WEAR A MASK
Just a day after a note of optimism sounded about the United States’ response to the pandemic and said the country was in “a much better place,” Vice President Mike Pence canceled the events to campaign for the president’s re-election. Republican Donald Trump in Florida and Arizona due to the outbreak, campaign officials said Saturday.
In an interview with CBS, Pence said he was confident that there were sufficient health care supplies and capacity to deal with the increase in cases.
He also defended Trump’s refusal to directly ask Americans to wear masks or wear one in public, even when Texas Governor Greg Abbott and others say the widespread use of masks will be critical in order to reopen the economy.
“We believe that people should wear masks where social distancing is not possible, where directed by state or local authorities,” Pence told CBS.
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, criticized the administration’s response to the pandemic that killed more than 125,000 Americans. She told ABC News on Sunday that requiring the use of masks across the country was long overdue.
Global coronavirus cases topped 10 million on Sunday according to a Reuters count, marking a major milestone in the spread of respiratory disease that has so far killed nearly half a million people in seven months.
(GRAPH: Tracking the New Coronavirus in the US, Here)
Reports by Susan Heavey in Washington, Maria Caspani in New York and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Written by Lisa Shumakmer; Editing by Daniel Wallis