LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California marked a record jump in new COVID-19 infections on Monday, a Reuters tally showed, as Los Angeles reported an “alarming” rise that put it over 100,000 cases.
Medical workers prepare to intubate a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient at the United Memorial Medical Center’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) intensive care unit in Houston, Texas, U.S., June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare
Los Angeles and neighboring counties have become a new epicenter in the pandemic as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge there despite California Governor Gavin Newsom’s strict orders requiring bars to close and residents to wear masks in nearly all public spaces.
“The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations signals that we, as a community, need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement announcing the sharp rise.
“Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our healthcare system and seeing even more devastating illness and death,” Ferrer said.
Statewide positive tests for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, rose by at least 7,418 in California on Monday to nearly 223,000, the biggest one-day increase since tracking began. Los Angeles County, with a population of 10 million, has recorded 100,000 cases of the coronavirus.
California is among a number of U.S. states including Florida, Texas and Arizona battling a new wave of infections as the nation emerges from weeks of clamp-downs on residents and businesses.
ARIZONA HIT HARD
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Monday ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and water parks for at least 30 days. Ducey also delayed the start of public schools until at least Aug. 17.
“Our expectation is that next week our numbers will be worse,” Ducey said at an afternoon news conference. Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Phoenix on Wednesday to discuss efforts to fight the pandemic’s resurgence.
Texas and Florida ordered the closure of all their recently reopened bars on Friday.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Monday indoor dining will no longer resume on Thursday as planned and would be postponed indefinitely.
In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly imposed a statewide mandate requiring residents to wear masks in public spaces, a move she said was necessary to avoid another shutdown.
Beaches in Florida’s Broward County and Palm Beach County will not open for the July 3-5 holiday weekend, officials said on Sunday, a blow to residents hoping to celebrate Independence Day there on Saturday. Miami-Dade County has also announced beach closures for the holiday weekend.
AMC, the largest U.S. movie theater chain, on Monday said it was pushing back the reopening of its theaters to July 30 from July 15.
In June, 22 U.S. states reported record increases in new cases, often multiple times, including Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Utah.
Face covering orders have become a political issue, with some Americans, many of them supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump, calling them unconstitutional, even in the face of a pandemic.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, venue for part of the Republican nominating convention in August, said on Twitter it would be requiring masks in public starting later on Monday.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that Trump “has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests.”
Pence on Sunday pressed Americans to adopt face masks during a trip to Texas and wore one himself. Other Republican politicians in hard-hit states also are now calling for masks.
The New York Times reported on Monday that 43% of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 were linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The paper cited its own tracking database.
Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington, Maria Caspani in New York, Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, Lisa Shumaker in Chicago and Brad Brooks in Austin; Writing by Grant McCool and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Howard Goller, Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman