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Newsom Orders Bars In Seven Counties, Including LA And Imperial, To Close As Virus Cases Surge

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen here in Sacramento on Friday. The number...

Photo by Rich Pedroncelli AP

Above: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen here in Sacramento on Friday. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state have been rising in recent days.

Los Angeles and Imperial counties are among seven statewide where Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering that bars be closed to help stem a new surge of COVID-19 cases. The governor is also recommending that eight other counties, including Riverside, close their bars.

The counties under the mandatory bar closure order issued Sunday are: Los Angeles, Imperial, Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Kern and Tulare.

Other counties where state health officials are urging that bars be closed, include: Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento and Stanislaus — to issue local health orders closing bars.

“Californians must remain vigilant against this virus,” Newsom said in statement Sunday. “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 to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases."

On Saturday, the state reported a rise of nearly 6,000 confirmed virus cases from the day before. Nearly 5,900 people have died from coronavirus complications in the state. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The list of counties impacted by Sunday’s order was based on daily reports on the spread of the virus, state officials said. Counties that have been on the state’s watch list for between three and 14 days are being asked to close bars through local health orders. Those on the state’s watch list for more than 14 days are required to immediately close any bar that has reopened for business.

“We are actively monitoring COVID-19 across the state and working closely with counties where there are increased rates and concerning patterns of transmission,” the state public health officer, Dr. Sonia Angell, said. “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.”

Imperial County, just east of San Diego County, has been the slowest county in the state to open, as it has grappled with high positivity rates. Newsom on Friday urged the county to reinstate its stay-at-home order to slow the rapid spread of the virus there.

Statewide, California is seeing a "positivity rate" in their covid testing of 5.3 percent over the past 14 days. In Imperial County, nearly 23 percent of Covid-19 tests have come back positive.

The order comes as California grapples with a rise in positive coronavirus cases, especially among younger adults, following social gatherings over Memorial Day weekend, reopened businesses in many places, including restaurants, fitness centers and hair salons, and widespread street protests against police brutality.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

KPBS staff contributed to this report.

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