Coronavirus: California governor orders bars closed in L.A., six other counties amid COVID-19 spikes

Coronavirus: California governor orders bars closed in L.A., six other counties amid COVID-19 spikes

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Sunday the immediate closure of bars and nightspots in seven counties where the novel coronavirus is spreading rapidly.

“Californians must remain vigilant against this virus,” Newsom said in a statement. “COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger. That’s why it is critical we take this step.”

The seven counties affected immediately by Newsom’s mandate include Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial. Newsom also recommended, but did not mandate, the closure of bars in eight additional counties as a precaution, including Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus, the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, monitoring by the California Department of Public Health has detected high rates of new infections, positive tests or increasing hospitalizations for at least 14 consecutive days in the seven counties where the bar closures were mandated.

Bars have been singled out by public health officials, the Chronicle reported, based on the assumptions that alcohol consumption impairs judgement, leading to less compliance with safety measures such as adequate social distancing and wearing face coverings.

In addition, large crowds in bars and other nightspots can complicate contact tracing, and noise levels often force people to raise their voices, meaning the likelihood of more spewed droplets that can carry the coronavirus increase, the Chronicle reported.

“Closing bars in these counties is one of a number of targeted actions counties are implementing across our state to slow the virus’ spread and reduce risk,” Dr. Sonia Angell, the state public health officer, said in a statement.

According to the Times, COVID-19 cases statewide have surpassed 211,000, as hospitalizations and infection rates continue to increase.