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California Closes Indoor Businesses Statewide As COVID-19 Cases Surge

With coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continuing their rise in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Monday he is reimposing restrictions on many indoor businesses statewide, effective immediately.

Restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms must suspend their indoor operations, and bars must close altogether.

Thirty counties must also close indoor operations of fitness centers, places of worship, offices for noncritical sectors, personal care services, hair salons, barber shops and malls.

Those 30 counties have been on a monitoring list for three consecutive days, and represent about 80% of the state's population, according to Newsom. They include Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Orange, San Diego and Fresno.

The closures will stay in place until counties meet standards set out by the state.

Newsom emphasizedthe importance of making decisions based on local conditions and data, and said recent trend lines had created "caution and concern."

"We're moving back into a modification mode of our original stay-at-home order, but doing so utilizing what is commonly referred to as a 'dimmer switch,' not an 'on and off switch,' " he said.

Newsom specifically cited a rise in hospitalizations, intensive care unit beds and the rate of positive test results in the state.

As of Monday, state hospitals reported a 27.8% increase in hospitalized patients over the last 14 days, and a 19.9% increase in ICU hospitalized patients over that same period. Data indicate that 36% of ICU beds and 72% of ventilators are available.

On Sunday, the most recent reporting period, health officials recorded 8,460 new cases and 72 new fatalities. They reported 6,322 confirmed hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with 1,806 in the ICU.

"That's why it's incumbent upon all of us to recognize, soberly, that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon," Newsom said.

California began reopening in early May and emerged as a hot spot in June, largely driven by case increases in populous Los Angeles County. By the end of that month, the number of hospitalizations in the state had surpassed a record previously set in April.

Newsom has taken action to try to slow the spread. A statewide mandate requiring face coverings in public spaces took effect on June 18. On July 1, he ordered 19 counties to close all bars and indoor operations of certain sectors.

Meanwhile, certain entities in the state have taken it upon themselves to delay reopening. Disney announced it will keep its Southern California parks, initially set to open July 17, closed indefinitely. And on Monday, Los Angeles and San Diego public schools announced they will begin the academic year entirely remotely.

The state is in stage two of its four-phase reopening plan, which allows certain lower-risk workplaces to open with restrictions.

Eligible counties could apply for variances to progress through the phase more quickly, but that has also been put on hold. As of Monday, the state's website said, no county attestations will be accepted "until further notice."

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Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.