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California's slide from coronavirus success to danger zone began Memorial Day

Rong-Gong Lin II, Iris Lee, Sean Greene and Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The only way to figure out how to open is to do it gradually and dial things back if the disease spreads so fast it might overwhelm hospitals later. And that's what's happening now, Kim-Farley said.

"Now, we're recognizing things are going up. So we're dialing it back down again," Kim-Farley said.

A Times analysis found that as of Sunday, 5.9% of coronavirus test results received over the last week are positive. That's a significant jump from the figure the previous week, when it was 4.8%.

The rate is even worse in Los Angeles County: As of Sunday, the seven-day average of coronavirus tests being confirmed as positive was 8.7%. Two weeks ago, it was 5.8%.

Across the state, public health officials have expressed alarm at the rising rate of cases and hospitalizations. On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Los Angeles County and four counties in the San Joaquin Valley -- Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare -- to shut down bars. Imperial and San Joaquin counties, which have not allowed bars to reopen, are being ordered by the state to keep them closed.

The state also recommended that the following counties issue orders closing bars: Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus and Ventura. State officials are recommending that two Bay Area counties, Contra Costa and Santa Clara, keep bars closed.


State officials say the consumption of alcohol in bars impairs judgment and leads to decreased use of face coverings and keeping socially distant from other people. The spaces are also loud, often requiring people to speak in louder voices, which can lead to the spray of potentially infectious oral droplets while talking.

It was on June 12 that Newsom allowed counties to decide when to allow bars to reopen; L.A. County gave the green light June 19.

As of Sunday, 16 California counties have seen increases in hospitalizations that have exceeded 10% in the last three days, according to The Times' California coronavirus tracker. They affect the state's most populated regions: Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego County and the Central Valley.

"While we did anticipate increases in cases as sectors reopened, we did not expect the increases to be this steep this quickly. Without immediate actions to slow the spread, we risk having too many people requiring hospital care and possibly overwhelming our health care system," Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County's public health director, said Friday.


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