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California Coronavirus

California Coronavirus Update: Top Health Official Reveals State Has Been Underreporting New COVID-19 Cases; County Numbers Also Have “Discrepancies” – Deadline

On Tuesday, an unusual message was posted on the California state COVID-19 dashboard. It read, “Due to the issues with the state’s electronic laboratory system, these data represent an underreporting of actual positive cases in one single day.” There was no further information or clarification.

A few hours later, the state’s top health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly, shed some light on the issue.

“Over the past few days — the state system — we’ve discovered some discrepancies,” said Ghaly.

“We’re working hard and immediately to reach out to the labs that we work with to get accurate information in a manual process so that we can feed that to our county partners,” he added, “so that we can validate and make sure that our numbers are accurate.

“And of course, [we’re] working hard on the technology side across state government to make sure that the systems are robust and capable of accepting all of this information.”

California’s daily case count numbers have plummeted from a recent high of 9,032 on August 1 — the day local officials were informed of the issue — to 5,719 on Monday.

While Gov. Gavin Newsom did not reveal the data issues at his Monday news conference, he did repeatedly warn Californians not to let their guard down.

“The overall trend…is showing a decrease from where we were over a week ago,” said Newsom. “But one week does not make the kind of trend that gives us confidence to generate headlines. We are looking forward to that and need to see another few weeks of this kind of data to come in to feel more confident about where we are as a state.”

He also issued what now seems like a prescient warning saying, “This virus is not going away. It’s not just going to take Labor Day off. It’s not going to take Halloween off. Or the holidays off.”

“Until we have quality therapeutics, until we have a vaccine, we are going to be living with this virus,” predicted Newsom.

And it’s not just the state numbers that have been impacted.

“Many counties depend upon the state’s information to keep their own data up to date,” said Ghaly. “Many public health officials and public health offices that depend on the state’s data over the past few days have seen a drop in case numbers. We’ve been in communication with them about what these discrepancies are. They’re concerned, as we are. There is no doubt that, their ability to address in a specific way contact tracing and case investigation” has been impacted over the past few days.

Riverside County acknowledged the issue in a statement on Monday, which read in part:

Electronic laboratory reporting is not being submitted to CalREDIE’s system in a real-time manner. Riverside County’s positive cases in recent days may appear that the numbers are holding steady or flattening, but that’s simply not true, said Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari.

“This is an integration, technical issue,” Saruwatari said. “Simply put, there is a significant lag in how the information is being fed into the system. We’re anticipating significant increases in case reporting this week.”

The notice went on to say that local health officials had first been made aware of the reporting issue on Friday.

Two other counties, Sacramento and Placer, posted disclaimers to their COVID-19 dashboards. Placer added a message Monday and Sacramento added a warning early Tuesday, amid a few. Those counties had recently seen lower numbers.

A warning statement on Placer’s data dashboard reads, “Please note that CalREDIE, the statewide electronic disease reporting system, is experiencing serious unresolved processing delays.

“As such, new cases presented here are likely an underestimate of true incident cases being reported. This impacts many of our statistics, including case rates and percent increase estimates.”

These data challenges on case numbers do not have overlap with hospitalization and ICU data, he said.

The state reported 4,526 new cases on Tuesday and 113 new deaths. Hospitalizations were down 1.5 percent and COVID-related ICU patients dropped .9 percent.

Los Angeles County has also seen a recent large drop in daily cases.

On July 31, the county reported 2,651 new infections. That was a sharp drop from the all-time high in new daily cases, reported just two days before of 4,825.

Watch Ghaly’s presentation below.

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California Watch

Watch: California Gov. Gavin Newsom on state’s response to COVID-19 pandemic, Aug. 3 – The Mercury News


If you cannot view this on your mobile device. Click here.

California Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on August 3 at noon PT.

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California death

California Coronavirus Update: First Teen Death From Virus Confirmed In State As Death Toll Passes 9,000 – Deadline

On Friday, the California Department of Public Health reported the first confirmed death of a teen from coronavirus in the state.

In a statement, the department said the following:

The California Department of Public Health confirmed today the COVID-related death of a teenager in the Central Valley. This is the first death in California of a teenager, and this young person had underlying health conditions. Due to patient confidentiality, CDPH will not provide any additional information about this death. There have been no reported deaths in younger age categories, including children 5 and under.

Per the official statement, this is the first confirmed coronavirus death in a Californian under the age 18. There have been other minors who are suspected to have succumbed to the virus, but the connection was never confirmed via a positive test.

The news comes just one day after an outbreak was reported at USC, infecting about 40 people on fraternity row there.

“A significant number of the cases were associated with four fraternity houses,” a university health official said.

In all, about 150 Trojan students and employees have tested positive so far, even as the school has moved the vast majority of classes online, canceled events, limited on-campus housing, added mask requirements as well as social-distancing and symptom-checking measures.

While early in L.A.’s coronavirus outbreak cases were much more prevalent among people over 60 years old, a majority of the area’s infections have now been recorded in people between the ages of 18 and 49.

California also quietly reported on Friday that it has seen 9,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. There was no media announcement, no press conference from once-ubiquitous Governor Gavin Newsom.

California now trails only New York and New Jersey in terms of death toll from the virus. While those states have bent the COVID curve down, California is still losing record numbers of residents daily.

The state saw an all-time high of 197 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday. California’s pandemic accounted for another 194 new deaths on Thursday.

Deaths have dramatically increased from the near-flat levels in June. Two weeks ago, that daily average of lives lost due to the virus was just 89. On Friday, the 14-day daily average of daily deaths attributed to coronavirus had risen to 112.

The spike began in earnest last week, with a then-record 157 deaths on Thursday topped by 159 deaths recorded last Friday.

Over the weekend and early in the week, those numbers dipped as state officials announced new reporting protocols had created a backlog of results. The recent skyrocketing numbers are, no doubt, at least in part due to that backlog. But the fact that they have resumed on a march to new highs does not bode well.

In addition to the deaths milestone, California reported 8,086 new coronavirus cases, for a total of 493,588 since the pandemic began.

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California Impatient

Impatient California now tops NY for most coronavirus cases – Los Angeles Times

California recorded some of the first COVID-19 cases in America and the country’s first known death, in what would become a worldwide pandemic. It responded with the nation’s initial stay-at-home order. Now, the Golden State claims another dubious distinction: more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other state.

California passed New York for that record Wednesday morning, reaching more than 409,000 cases and eclipsing New York’s 408,886, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.

California is No. 1 in part because it is the most populous state but also because millions of residents have been unwilling, or unable, to practice the social distancing and mask-wearing that public health experts say are the best measures to keep SARS-CoV-2 somewhat in check.

“I think we started to exit shelter-in-place sometime around Memorial Day both emotionally and physically. And we are paying the price for that,” said Nicholas Jewell, a biostatistics authority at U.C. Berkeley. “It’s like we should be tip-toeing out on the ice. What we did, instead, was all run out on the ice, some not too cautiously. And a lot of people fell through the ice.”

It wasn’t so long ago that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was being pummeled for his state’s slow response to the pandemic, while California seemed to have dodged disaster with its early action.

But the tables have turned and the disease’s onward march here showed no sign of slowing Wednesday, as Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that 12,807 cases had been logged in the previous 24 hours. That marked a new record high for California and pushed the pandemic total to 413,576.

“It’s just another reminder,” Newsom said, “of the magnitude of impact that this virus continues to have.”

Though it passed New York in the total number afflicted, California (at nearly 40 million residents, more than double the population of the Empire State) has tallied just over 8,000 deaths from COVID-19, less than a third the death toll in New York.

As in other states, some of California’s biggest outbreaks have been in elder care facilities, prisons and meatpacking plants. But the disease has spread to places without such confined spaces, such as Mono County, where restaurant workers have been among the most commonly afflicted.

New York City saw intensive-care wards overwhelmed and morgues deluged with bodies, as fatalities spiked at about 800 a day. Those scenes of suffering continue to epitomize the threat from the novel respiratory illness in America. Even with recent increases, California has not seen its intensive care system overwhelmed. The deadliest day for COVID-19 came on July 8, when 149 people died.

New York’s spring crisis should remain a cautionary tale for Californians, said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of public health for San Francisco. He said the emergency in New York revealed “how bad the pandemic can get and how rapidly it can get bad.” It should also put the Golden State on notice that even a sophisticated, well-financed healthcare system can become overwhelmed.

If the cases in the Bay Area continue to rise, “it is plausible we could get in the New York situation in the late summer or fall,” Colfax said.

But New York’s experience also confirms that upticks in COVID-19 can be reversed with a concerted public effort. “I just hope we can do that before a massive surge,” Colfax said. “New York unfortunately had to do that after a massive surge.”

New York’s pandemic storm appeared to come with one silver lining, compelling New Yorkers to “make a more dramatic and sustained change in behavior,” said Dr. Geoffrey Leung, ambulatory medical director of Riverside University Health System in the Inland Empire.

“In New York, everyone knew someone who had COVID,” Leung added, while many Californians still know of the disease only secondhand and thus lack “the emotional driver they had in New York.”

Leung said the Riverside health system has had to expand its intensive care capacity from 36 to 54 beds because of the influx of patients. Physical space is easier to provide than the emotional resilience of healthcare workers, several physicians said.

“The concrete that makes a hospital won’t wear down. But humans wear down,” said Dr. Armand Dorian, chief medical officer at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. “My most difficult commodity to maintain is my front-line workers. How are we going to replenish these people or give them a break? That’s an issue we don’t discuss enough.”

Climbing hospitalization numbers represent one of the “downstream” impacts of increasing infections. They reached a new high this week — with 7,170 hospitalized statewide as of Tuesday. More than 2,000 of those patients occupied intensive care beds, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The death toll also continues to climb, with 674 fatalities for the week that ended Monday, the highest seven-day total to date. That number broke the record set in the previous week, when 640 died. The week before that, COVID-19 deaths numbered 474.

State officials sought to put the statistics in perspective.

“I don’t myself over-read into the significance of that number,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday, when asked about California becoming No. 1 in total coronavirus infections.

He pointed to the state’s population and geographical size and added: “At the end, I really expect and hope that California is going to be the state that adapted the most, learned the most, prepared the best and that we are going to really reduce its impact.”

Newsom agreed that especially given the state’s size, even a slight increase in people having social contact would cause an uptick in the state’s numbers. Nonetheless, he called California’s case count “a sober reminder of why we are taking things as seriously as we are.”

Hospitalization and death totals that are reaching new highs reflect exposure to the virus that occurred weeks ago, experts said. That becomes one of the key challenges in the fight against COVID-19: It can take weeks to see if steps taken to stem the spread of the disease are working.

Conversely, it can also take weeks to see the repercussions of not taking the contagion seriously, such as when people don’t wear masks around others, mix with people they don’t live with and decline to regularly wash and sanitize their hands.

Hospital administrator Dorian worries that a secondary kind of epidemic — a lack of public trust— is making it harder to gain broad public compliance. “It should be a simple notion, ‘Just wear a mask,’ but so often now I am confronted with people who say that is a political statement. It’s not.”

State health officials issued an order for those in public to wear a mask on June 18 and reimposed restrictions on many other activities last week. But Ghaly said it will take three to five weeks to determine whether those restrictions have cut infection rates. Jewell, the UC Berkeley epidemiologist, said restrictions on some travel would also help to slow the “mixing bowl” effect of coronavirus carriers spreading the virus around California and between states.

“We did well in March and April with some of the restrictions,” Jewell said. “But we got impatient. Now there is much more risk than there was back then, but it’s going to be much harder to get people back to following those rules.”

Times staff writers Maura Dolan, Iris Lee, Rong-Gong Lin II and Colleen Shalby contributed to this report.

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California COVID

California has most COVID-19 cases in U.S., surpassing N.Y. – Los Angeles Times

California now has the most confirmed coronavirus infections of any state, surpassing New York, as an ongoing statewide spike in the number of infections has pushed its overall case count past 409,000.

As of Wednesday morning, data from Johns Hopkins University showed California had reported about 1,100 more cumulative COVID-19 cases than New York — which was besieged by the virus in the early spring but has since seen the numbers of newly confirmed infections, deaths and hospitalizations drop dramatically.

California, however, is trending in the opposite direction.

Shortly after noon Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that 12,807 new coronavirus infections had been reported in the past 24 hours — a record high — bringing the state’s total to 413,576.

“It’s just another reminder … of the magnitude of impact that this virus continues to have,” he said.

Despite the higher case count, California has not experienced nearly as many fatalities as New York has.

The Empire State has recorded more than 25,000 COVID-19 deaths, three times as many as California.

The fact that California is by far the most populous state accounts, in part, for the high number of infections. The state’s population of nearly 40 million is more than double that of New York.

“I don’t myself over-read into the significance of that number,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday when asked about California overtaking New York as the state with the most confirmed cases — pointing to both the state’s population and geographical size.

“I look at every day as an opportunity to do more and do better with our response to COVID-19, and at the end, I really expect and hope that California is going to be the state that adapted the most, learned the most, prepared the best and that we are going to really reduce its impact.”

Newsom agreed that, especially given the state’s size, “it’s not surprising now, in some respects, as we’ve begun to reopen key sectors of our economy, people continue to mix and people continue to come in close contact with others that may have contracted this disease, that our numbers would start to go up.”

Nonetheless, he said, California’s case count is “a sober reminder of why we are taking things as seriously as we are.”

Officials have expressed alarm at how California is trending — and not just because of its overall case count.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations have reached record-breaking levels in the state. More than 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 patients were hospitalized statewide as of Monday, and more than 2,000 were in intensive care, according to the state Department of Public Health.

California is also reporting worsening death tolls. For the weeklong period that ended Monday, 674 deaths were reported in California, the highest weekly total to date. That number broke the record set in the previous seven-day period, when 640 died; the week before that, it was 474.

Experts say hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators of the coronavirus spread and can reflect exposure to the virus that occurred weeks earlier.

That, officials say, is one of the key challenges in the fight against COVID-19: It can take weeks to see whether the steps taken to stem the spread of the disease are working.

Conversely, it can also take weeks to see the repercussions of residents and business owners not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves — which officials say include keeping your distance from people you do not live with, regularly washing and sanitizing your hands, and wearing a face covering in public, particularly when physical distancing isn’t possible.

California has taken significant steps aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks, issuing a statewide mask order on June 18 and renewed restrictions on numerous activities and businesses last week.

It’s not yet known how long those measures will need to be in place. According to Ghaly, “we may take up to three, four, even five weeks to feel the full impact of some of those changes.”

“I wish I had that crystal ball that said, ‘This is when we’re going to be ready,’ but we’re going to continue to communicate the sort of story from on the ground, understanding how it affects the whole state, so that we don’t do anything too soon,” he said. “But, we’re also mindful of the impact of doing things too late, and trying to strike that delicate balance is what we’re going to continue to do.”

Health officials have said the surge in infections is being fueled by younger Californians. Roughly 69% of the state’s total confirmed cases have been among those 49 and younger, according to the latest available data.

That trend holds true in Los Angeles County, which remains the hotbed of California’s outbreak.

Of the new cases the county Department of Public Health reported Tuesday, 57% were residents under the age of 41.

Although it’s true that younger groups are, on the whole, less likely to fall severely ill as a result of COVID-19, officials stress that that does not mean they are immune — or that they can’t spread the disease to others who are more at risk.

“The tragedy of what we are witnessing is that many of our younger residents are interacting with each other and not adhering to the recommended prevention measures, while our older residents continue to experience the results of this increased spread with the worst health outcomes, including death,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

“People over the age of 65 years old account for 11% of all cases but account for nearly 75% of all deaths. Our behaviors, including the wearing of face coverings and the adherence of physical distancing — simple actions of kindness and caring — can protect those we love.”

Times staff writers Rong-Gong Lin II, Iris Lee, Colleen Shalby and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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California invincible

‘They feel invincible’: how California’s coronavirus plan went wrong – The Guardian

For a good while, it seemed California had skirted past calamity. It was the first US state to order residents to shelter in place in March, and its early, aggressive actions paid off. Despite it being the most populous state and an international hub with the largest number of direct flights to China, where the coronavirus first appeared, California’s death rate remained relatively low.

By May, Disneyland announced plans to reopen. The nation’s top health official Dr Anthony Fauci praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s leadership. And as the weather warmed, Californians flooded back to beaches and bars.

“We had reason to feel confident,” said Dr Bob Wachter, who chairs the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “And then, we hit some trouble.”

A few outbreaks sparked an explosion, with an average of about 6,000 to 7,000 new cases each day over the past week. Los Angeles county began to count more residents sick with Covid-19 cases anywhere else in the nation and Disneyland postponed its reopening. As hospitalizations surged, the death toll climbed past 6,000, and ICU beds in some regions began filling to capacity, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, ordered bars, restaurant dining rooms, cinemas and other indoor venues in the hardest-hit counties to close back up.

Now, health officials and epidemiologists sifting through the rubble are left wondering how the Golden state lost its status as the public health golden child.

People began to fixate on individual liberties’

“Looking back, the decision to reopen when we did seemed perfectly reasonable,” Wachter said. “We were doing pretty well, we had the resources in place to deal with an uptick in cases.” Despite some stumbles, Newsom had set and ultimately met fairly ambitious goals to test 60,000 to 80,000 Californians each day, and stock up on protective equipment for healthcare workers.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote that California was lucky to have Newsom as its leader. “People are alive today because of Newsom’s expeditious action,” it asserted. The state’s death rate was similar to that of Germany, a country widely regarded as a public health success story.

The Newsom administration’s four-phase plan to reopen slowly, while encouraging Californians to remain vigilant about wearing face coverings and maintaining distanceto stop the spread of disease seemed “perfectly good and smart”, Watchter said.

“But what I think we didn’t get right was the national political scene,” he said. California, despite its reputation as a progressive state, wasn’t immune to a growing conservative movement that rejects face masks as muzzles on independence and vilifies public health officials as enemies of the people.

In Orange county, where more than 15,000 people have been infected, health director Nichole Quick resigned in mid-June after being confronted with a banner depicting her as a Nazi, protests outside her house and personal threats. Quick had issued an order requiring residents to wear masks in public, which the county sheriff insisted he wouldn’t enforce. After she became the third high-level health official in Orange county to quit, the county quickly reversed Quick’s order – recommending, but not insisting that residents wear masks.

By the Memorial Day holiday Californians “thought they were safe to just have parties, go to overcrowded beaches, to get close to other people and take off their masks”, said Lee Riley, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. “People began to fixate on individual liberties without understanding that one of the most fundamental civil liberties in the US is the right to health – the right to stay alive.”

‘This isn’t a political issue’

As restaurants, bars, zoos and movie theatres reopened across the state, outbreaks in southern California have been the most worrying, with Bay Area counties seeing more modest rises. Over all, despite its huge caseload, about 6.9% of those tested for coronavirus across the state have gotten a positive result in the past week. That’s higher than the 5% the World Health Organization recommended as the upper bar for reopening and much lower than the 25.2% positive test rate in Florida and 17.7% in Arizona.

Scientists are still working out in what context most of the cases are spreading – early tracking data in LA county suggests that outbreaks in nursing homes added up with cases traced back to restaurants, workplaces, warehouses and retailers account for just about 15 or 20% of all cases. While the disease may have also spread amid the massive protests against police brutality, epidemiologists aren’t connecting big outbreaks to the demonstrations. “We don’t know yet where the majority of cases are spreading, but my suspicion is individual households,” Lee said.

Demographic data suggests that younger people, between the ages of 18 and 50, are fueling the current wave of infections, accounting for nearly 60% of cases statewide. “Maybe they feel invincible, so they go out to bars, they gather in big groups,” Riley said. “But then they can spread the virus to their grandmas and grandpas, their parents, their buddies with asthma or diabetes, who are more vulnerable.”

Among the hardest-hit regions are rural counties in the south and the Central Valley, where farmworkers have been toiling through each stage of this pandemic. California is referred to “the breadbasket of the world” for good reason: it is the world’s fifth largest supplier of food and agricultural commodities.

As more Californians emerged from their homes, crowding restaurants and public spaces, “it really put our essential workers most at risk”, said Ninez Ponce, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The vast majority – more than 90% – of farmworkers in California are Latinx, working in precariously crowded environments. More than 60% of workers involved in food preparation are Latinx as well. And it’s those workers, many of whom lack access to healthcare and can’t afford to stay home, who have the most to lose as the virus barreled through the state, Ponce said.

Latinx, Black and other minority groups are disproportionately infected with and dying of Covid-19, according to a tracking tool designed by UCLA, and early metrics suggest that the state’s reopening has exacerbated disparities. Devastating outbreaks in California’s prisons and homeless shelters have further fueled inequities.

The many complicated factors driving the surge of coronavirus in California have all collided in Imperial county, a rural community along California’s southern border with Mexico and Arizona. Out of every 100,000 people in the country, more than 3,700 have been infected with the coronavirus – that’s several times higher than the statewide average of 600 infections per 100,000.

As the region’s only two hospitals ran short of beds, concerned residents wrote to Newsom, asking him to intervene as local leaders allowed businesses to continue reopening. The community, which had already been besieged by toxic dust storms, suffering with one of the highest rates of poverty in the state, “was ill-prepared to respond to even a small outbreak of cases, let alone what we’re seeing now,” said Luis Olmedo, a community advocate who runs a local advocacy group called the Comite Civico del Valle. And though the local council eventually reined in its optimistic reopening plan, officials remained more concerned with appeasing the loud, privileged few pushing for a hasty return to normal, than protecting minority workers, Olmedo said. “I want our leaders to all step up and take care of the whole community,” he said, “because right now they’re ending up in the emergency room and they’re ending up in body bags.”

Looking back, Richard Pan, a physician and a state senator, said the state rushed its reopening plan. Initially, officials had set two weeks of declining as a benchmark for advancing through each phase of reopening. “We wanted to not only flatten the curve but see a downturn,” he said. “Then we began seeing the anti-lockdown protests, basically egged on with a wink and a nod from Donald Trump, and the governor faced increasing pressure to move faster.”

As the number of cases swell, the governor’s recent orders pausing the California’s reopening, and his statewide mandate requiring residents to wear masks, are laudable, he said. “Still, we’re only successful if people follow the order – and right now, they’re not doing it.”

Pan, who recently introduced legislation to protect health officials against attacks, said that the governor’s presence at the top of every health briefing, as the face of the pandemic response may have backfired. Governors and mayors across the country probably left a need to step up, and combat Trump’s dramatic, bombastic – and counterproductive – daily missives, with daily press conferences of their own. “But they should have let their public health officials take the podium.” he said, “They should have let them lead the conversation – to show that this isn’t a political issue.”

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California Governor

California Governor Gavin Newsom orders movie theaters, indoor restaurants to close – Daily Mail

California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered all bars, indoor restaurant operations and movie theaters to shut down immediately in most parts of the state as coronavirus cases continue to spike.

Newsom announced the revised stay-at-home order on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after California bars, stores, restaurants and salons reopened for the first time after a three-month lockdown. 

Since then, the number of COVID-19 cases have begun to rise again, increasing nearly 50 per cent over the last two weeks, with a 43 per cent spike in hospitalizations. 

As of Monday, there were 222,917 confirmed cases in the state and 5,980 deaths, according to state’s public health department. 

The shutdown, which will last for at least three weeks, applies to 19 counties where nearly three-quarters of the state’s roughly 40 million population lives – including Los Angeles County.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the shutdown on Wednesday, days after imposing a statewide order requiring all residents to wear masks in most public places 

Under the new measure, restaurants are permitted to continue with outdoor dining service but must shut down indoor operations.

It also applies to other indoor business operations including museums, entertainment centers, movie theaters, zoos, and cardrooms.   

Newsom had closed bars in seven counties on Sunday but Wednesday’s order extends across the state. 

‘This doesn’t mean restaurants are shut down,’ Newsom said in a press conference. 

‘It means that we’re trying to take the activities, as many activities as we can – these mixed activities, these concentrated activities – and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.’ 

He added: ‘The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning.’

It marks the latest coronavirus measure imposed in the California in recent weeks and follows Newsom’s statewide order requiring all residents to wear masks or protective face coverings in most public areas. 

California has joined a small but growing list of states that have been forced to roll back reopening plans after cases began to spike again.

Under the new measure, restaurants are permitted to continue with outdoor dining service but must shut down indoor operations 

California has joined a small but growing list of states that have been forced to rollback reopening plans amid a troubling surge in coronavirus cases 

COVID-19 cases have begun spike again in California, increasing nearly 50 per cent over the last two weeks

CALIFORNIA SHUTS DOWN 19 COUNTIES

  1. Contra Costa
  2. Fresno
  3. Glenn
  4. Imperial
  5. Kern
  6. Kings
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Merced 
  9. Orange
  10. Riverside
  11. Sacramento
  12. San Bernardino
  13. San Joaquin
  14. Santa Barbara
  15. Santa Clara
  16. Solano
  17. Stanislaus
  18. Tulare
  19. Ventura 

Texas and Florida, which were among the first states to begin reopening after a three-month lockdown, closed bars for a second time last week after seeing record highs in the number of infections. 

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert earlier this week warned that gathering at indoor bars was one of the most dangerous activities Americans could do.

The order came just days ahead of what was expected to be a busy Fourth of July weekend for the state, sparking fears people would gather in mass for celebrations.  

Newsom did not order beaches to close, but said parking lots at all beaches in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area would close to limit crowds. 

State parks – which include some beaches – will remain open, but with measures in place to reduce overcrowding. 

Newsom said the new business closure order applies to counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list because of increasing coronavirus cases for three consecutive days: Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.

But enforcing the new rules will be difficult, Newsom said. 

He said seven state agencies with regulatory authority would target non-compliant businesses, including the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Highway Patrol.

The order applies to 19 counties, where nearly three-quarters of the state’s 40 million population lives, including Los Angeles County 

COVID-19 cases across the US increased by 46 percent in the week ending June 28, compared to the previous seven days, with the majority of rises occurring in the West and South of the country

And he suggested that state officials would first try to convince non-compliant businesses to cooperate instead of penalizing them.

‘It’s more education. I’m not coming out with a fist. We want not come out with an open heart, recognizing the magnitude of some of these modifications,’ Newsom said.

Many local California governments have delayed reopening or have imposed extra restrictions as cases rose. 

Officials in Los Angeles County closed beaches for the Fourth of July weekend before Newsom announced his restrictions and Fresno County in the state’s Central Valley agricultural heartland had already ordered all bars to close.

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California Coronavirus

Coronavirus: California travelers must quarantine upon arrival in New York; barred from European Union – The Mercury News

Travelers from California face a growing set of restrictions as destinations foreign and domestic begin to grapple with life post-pandemic.

When the European Union reopens its borders Wednesday, that won’t include travelers from the U.S. And on Tuesday, New York state expanded the list of states from which travelers must quarantine to 16, including California.

Now, when you wake up on the other side of your next red-eye flight into LaGuardia, JFK, or any other airport in New York, you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The same goes for 15 other states, up from the initial nine that the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut put restrictions on last week.

In addition to California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee were added to the list, while Washington state was removed. Travelers from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah were already required to enter self-quarantine upon arrival in New York.

If you’re traveling to New York from the following states you must self-quarantine for 14 days.

The states are: AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, GA, IA, ID, LA, MS, NC, NV, SC, TN, TX, UT.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 30, 2020

Any hopes of a mid-pandemic European vacation have also been squashed. There are 15 countries who will again be granted access to the E.U. beginning Wednesday: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China.

Notably missing from the list: the United States. Joining the U.S. on the list of countries who are not welcome back: Brazil, Russia and India, the three countries that follow the U.S. in total coronavirus cases.

With 2.6 million confirmed cases, the U.S. has more than those three countries combined. Its per-capita case rate is the highest of any wealthy country (796 per 100,000 residents), however its death rate trails the U.K., Spain and France, which were all set to open their borders Wednesday. In all three E.U. states, however, their cases were flat or falling. Cases in the U.S. are surging for a second time and have surpassed their initial peak.

With summer here and vacations on the horizon, the coronavirus crisis has thrown many plans into flux. Yosemite National Park postponed opening more campgrounds after the spike in new cases around the state, while Disneyland canceled its planned reopening for July 17. For months, Hawaii has required all visitors to the islands quarantine for two weeks.

The result could be a loss of 150 million trips by American families this summer, according to a forecast by the American Automotive Association (AAA). A report issued by the agency last week estimated Americans would hit the road 15% less this summer — still 700 million trips from July 1 through Sept. 30 — the biggest hit to travel in the country since the 2009 recession.

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California Newsom

California Gov. Newsom orders bars closed in counties including Los Angeles, citing coronavirus – Fox News

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars to close in counties including Los Angeles, while recommending closures in some other counties, citing the spread of the coronavirus.

The order from Newsom, a Democrat, affected the counties of Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin, Tulare, and Los Angeles — the most populous in the United States. State officials have asked at least eight other counties to issue local health orders closing bars.

Officials in Texas and Florida have made similar moves, essentially pausing parts of their states’ economic comebacks as cases spike.

Gov. Gavin Newsom giving an update on the state's response to the coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom giving an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus.
(AP, File)

“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom announced in a written statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”

The governor’s decision Sunday represented a marked turn from recent decisions to let local officials decide how and when to let businesses re-open.

CALIFORNIA COUNTY SHERIFF SAYS HE WON’T ENFORCE NEWSOM’S CORONAVIRUS MASK ORDER

Earlier this month, Newsom ordered all Californians to wear masks while out in public amid concerns that residents have failed to voluntarily take precautions.

California, like other states, has recorded a startling increase in cases, casting doubt on whether to continue the course on re-opening the economy.

On Friday, Newsom announced that the state had conducted over 76,000 tests, with a 5.7 percent increase in overall cases in the past week. Statewide, there were some 4,890 new cases — the fourth-highest daily increase since the pandemic began.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Friday that COVID-19 cases were spiking among residents ages 18 to 40, with cases in the county alone rising from 24,457 on June 10 to over 35,249 on June 25.

Public health officials have attributed the recent rise in cases to social gatherings and people not adhering to social-distancing guidelines, warning that more businesses could re-close if hospitals were to reach surge capacity.

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As of Sunday, there have been some 206,000 total cases of the novel coronavirus and nearly 5,900 deaths.

Fox News’ Mike Lundin contributed to this report.

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California surplus

California will use surplus cash, delay school funds in budget – Los Angeles Times

California lawmakers sent a $202.1-billion state budget to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, a spending plan crafted to erase a historic deficit triggered by the coronavirus crisis that relies heavily on cash reserves and a multiyear payment plan to meet funding obligations to public schools.

The final votes in the Assembly came after passage by the state Senate on Thursday night, reflecting the agreement reached between Democratic legislative leaders and the governor earlier in the week. Newsom is expected to sign the budget bills into law as soon as Monday and beat the deadline for the start of the state’s new fiscal year on Wednesday.

“We’re in the midst of a global crisis and a pandemic,” Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) said. “And the choices we have to make here are not perfect.”

The budget cuts $13 billion in state government spending from the previous year’s level, almost exactly as much in cuts as proposed by Newsom in the plan he presented to legislators last month. But it differs from Newsom’s effort in how those savings are achieved — relying on fewer spending cuts, more delayed payments to schools and optimistic projections of future tax revenues, and health and human services program costs.

“We have been able to arrive at an agreement that is pragmatic and balanced, thanks in large part not to decisions we’re making right now, but [to] the responsible budgeting decisions that we’ve made over the past decade,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said on Thursday.

Those decisions made in the past — setting aside billions in tax revenues — swelled the size of the state’s cash reserve fund. The budget for the coming fiscal year uses almost half of the $16-billion fund and anticipates withdrawing close to $5 billion more over the next two budget years, leaving the main reserve fund’s balance at $2.9 billion by the early summer of 2023.

An additional $450 million will be withdrawn from a second reserve, one earmarked for health and welfare costs during an economic downturn. State expenses to combat the COVID-19 pandemic would be covered by another $716 million in available cash.

Even so, the budget makes hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to higher education, court operations and housing grants. State workers will be furloughed for up to two days a month, part of an almost $2.9-billion cut to employee compensation. A number of planned expansions and changes to state healthcare services were scrapped. The budget leaves out the expansion of Medi-Cal to those 65 and older who lack legal immigration status, a key priority of some Democratic lawmakers.

The decision to impose delays of 12 months or longer on some of the state’s funding for K-12 schools and community colleges resulted in the single largest solution to a deficit Newsom estimated this spring at $54.3 billion. Lawmakers agreed to defer $12.5 billion in school funds that would otherwise have been required to be paid in the fiscal year that ends next week, or the 2020-2021 year. Many school districts will have to find some other way of securing the missing money in the intervening period, usually done by tapping their own cash reserves or borrowing, with the state agreeing to repay those funds in the future.

But the cuts, lawmakers said, could have been worse. In all, fewer state programs will see cuts linked to future federal coronavirus assistance than Newsom originally envisioned. The budget lists $11 billion in spending reductions being made now, which can be reversed if sufficient money is sent to California by Congress and President Trump in early fall. That would mean more funding for education, housing and county government services.

“We must urge the federal government to develop meaningful aid for state and local programs,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said on Friday.

Democrats praised the limited number of spending increases contained in the budget as key to protecting the state’s most vulnerable residents during the recession. Those boosts include extending California’s tax credit for low-income earners without a Social Security number and with children younger than 6, which would provide extra cash to some residents without legal immigration status.

Republicans said too many of the solutions in the final agreement — one they complained they had not seen until a deal was struck privately among Democrats — are short-term fixes that don’t provide enough structural balance for state finances.

“I know the cuts are painful to make,” Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) said. “But our failure to make those difficult decisions this year is going to have dire consequences for us in future years.”

The state’s annual budget is written in a series of legislative bills, most of which will be on Newsom’s desk by the weekend. Over the course of the last quarter-century, an increasing number of those bills have enacted policies that might have only a thin nexus to the government services and revenues for the coming year. Most are rarely seen before being published, as required by law, 72 hours before a final legislative vote.

One such provision in a public safety budget bill led to a lengthy debate on Thursday night in the Senate: an expanded definition of what constitutes an assault-style weapon in California. The bill’s language was tailored to include a specific weapon sold by a Nevada gun manufacturer that is not marketed as a rifle, shotgun or pistol and therefore not subject to the state’s existing restrictions.

The company, Franklin Armory, describes the “Title 1″ weapon on its website as a “long gun for the Golden State” and one available to gun owners who live anyplace “where the modern sporting rifle is neutered beyond comprehension.”

State Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) said the gun ban should have been fully vetted by a legislative policy committee so that “there is a legitimate conversation” that “gives the public the opportunity to voice their opinion on this type of issue.”

That drew a sharp response from state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who chairs the Senate Public Safety Committee.

“What this does is enables us to keep catching up with these manufacturers who are constantly trying to circumvent California’s [assault weapon] law,” she said. “Every single vote in a budget, whether it is dollars or words, is a policy act.”

Others raised concerns with the public safety budget bill’s changes in prison sentencing, which includes redefining “elderly parole” as beginning in some cases at age 50 instead of 60.

On Friday, however, the Assembly refused to take up the bill and sent it back to the Senate. Some lawmakers expressed concern about a provision giving judges new discretion in handling some misdemeanor offenses. The Assembly’s decision leaves all of the bill’s public safety proposals in limbo.

The package of budget bills, expected to be in place in time to keep state government operations flowing seamlessly, is unlikely to be the final word from lawmakers on addressing California’s coronavirus-weakened economy. One key factor in every year’s budget deliberations in Sacramento — personal income tax receipts paid by April 15 — remains a mystery.

Newsom cited the burdens of the public health crisis when he extended the deadline for taxpayers until July 15, meaning a significant component of the state’s revenue outlook could lead to additional budget actions before the Legislature adjourns for the year in early September.

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