SACRAMENTO (Reuters) – California on Sunday ordered the closure of some bars, the first major setback in efforts to reopen the economy in the most populous US state as cases across the country skyrocket to record levels. day after day.
FILE PHOTO: A television broadcasts news in an empty bar in the downtown Los Angeles area after California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an unprecedented state “stay at home order” ordering the 40 million of state residents to take refuge in their homes for the foreseeable future during The Global Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), in California, USA, March 20, 2020. REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni
Governor Gavin Newsom’s order that bars close in Los Angeles and six other counties followed steps by Texas and Florida to close all their bars on Friday. Public health officials in California and across the country have identified the bars as the riskiest nonessential businesses currently open, the state said.
Drinking alcohol reduces inhibitions that lead to less compliance with masks and separation, health officials warn. Bars are also generally noisy, requiring customers to yell, spreading the droplets more widely.
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. In many of these states, people under the age of 35 have accounted for a large percentage of new cases. More tests are also giving positive results, up to 25% in some areas.
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.
On Sunday, Pence traveled to Texas and attended a service at Dallas First Baptist Church, where a 100-member choir sang without masks. Pence covered his face while sitting in the audience, according to a video.
In early March, a church choir in Washington state gathered for a rehearsal before the state issued an order to stay home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 87% of the singers developed COVID-19. Two members of the choir died.
Pence urged Texans to follow local laws that require masks and said that cities and counties in about half the state are demanding to cover their faces in public. Pence has defended Trump’s refusal to directly ask all Americans to wear masks.
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)
Report by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Additional reports by Susan Heavey in Washington and Maria Caspani in New York; Written by Lisa Shumakmer; Editing by Daniel Wallis