California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered seven counties, including Los Angeles, to shutter bars on Sunday as coronavirus cases surge in the state.
Newsom, the first governor in the nation to institute a statewide-stay-at-home order in March, also recommended that nine other counties, including the state capital of Sacramento, do the same.
Newsom’s order included several counties in the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country.
The shutdown came two days after officials in Florida and Texas ordered bars closed amid soaring coronavirus case counts. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attributed the move to widespread non-compliance with the state’s reopening guidelines.
On Friday, Newsom told reporters that the number of hospitalizations and intensive care unit patients in the state had risen by more than 3 and 4 percent, respectively, over the last 24 hours.
During the same news conference, Newsom said he told officials in Imperial County — a large agricultural area on the Mexican border — to reinstitute a stay-at-home order. Imperial was among the counties ordered to close its bars.
He said the county’s coronavirus positivity rate was nearly 23 percent over the last two weeks, or more than four times the state’s rate of 5.3 percent.
Newsom said county hospitals haven’t been able to handle the influx of patients. Over the last five weeks, 500 had been moved out of the county, he said.
Citing hospital officials in Imperial County, the Associated Press reported that the spike in cases was at least partly due to American citizens who live in Mexico traveling back and forth. The county of roughly 175,000 people is across the border from Mexicali, a city of 1 million.
A county supervisor, Luis Plancarte, told The Associated Press that county officials were as worried as Newsom was.
“We hear loudly the governor’s request,” he said.
Newsom introduced a plan for counties to begin reopening on April 14. They would have to meet several benchmarks, including a stable hospitalization rate and a positivity rate of less than 8 percent over the last week.
Most of the state began that phased process, but amid an increase in cases — an NBC News tally shows a statewide rise of 48 percent over the last two weeks — some local officials have paused their reopening plans.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Friday that barber shops, nail salons and other business would not be allowed to open their doors Monday.
“Yesterday we saw 103 cases,” she said. “On June 15, when we first reopened outdoor dining and in-store retail, we had 20. At our current rate, the number could double rapidly.”