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Coronavirus cases top 800,000 in California, highest in the nation

By Dakota Smith, Colleen Shalby, Alex Wigglesworth and Stephanie Lai, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES - Coronavirus cases in California have topped 800,000, according to The Times' tracker, another milestone in a state that is leading the nation in infections.

The sobering figure comes as California has seen declines in both new cases and deaths over the last month after a summer spike that alarmed officials and prompted the reversal of some business reopenings.

California topped 15,000 COVID-19 deaths earlier this week and appears to have surpassed the death toll of Texas, which was reporting 15,267 fatalities as of Wednesday. But that number remains far below that of New York, which has recorded more than 33,000 deaths. New Jersey has reported more than 16,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

Earlier this week, the state announced that nail salons across California could reopen. Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's Health and Human Services Department director, said Tuesday that state officials have worked with business sector leaders and county officials to ensure that nail salons can operate indoors in low-risk environments. In some parts of the state, salons have been operating outdoors.

It is ultimately up to individual counties to allow businesses and other sectors to reopen after being given the green light by the state.

Los Angeles County, for example, has refrained from allowing operations to resume at indoor malls, despite having the state's permission to do so. County health officials have said that such changes will not come until late September, at the earliest, after data that would show whether there has been a Labor Day infection surge and the state's new reopening are assessed.

 

But overall, the decline in cases has allowed more sectors of California to slowly reopen.

This week, Orange County school districts serving more than 200,000 students opened. All the campuses are using hybrid schedules that allow only a portion of students back at one time while others learn online - to help maintain social distancing by keeping classes small. So far, the vast majority of families have opted to return to campus.

By Thursday, Tustin, Irvine, Fountain Valley and Cypress joined Los Alamitos Unified, which led the wave of openings with its elementary schools under a county-approved waiver. They will be followed next week by Capistrano, Saddleback, Orange, Newport-Mesa and Ocean View districts - a total of 10 of the county's 28 school districts.

Across the state, 33 counties with 478 school districts are eligible to reopen because of lower infection rates, said California Department of Education director of communications Daniel Thigpen. Of these, 56% are still online only - and not all have reported data to the state.

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