As Angelenos prepare to celebrate the July Fourth holiday, the surge in coronavirus cases has triggered a dialing back of the phased reopening efforts. The alarming uptick also prompted the county government to ban all fireworks displays and close the county’s beaches.
“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and our residents from a deadly virus. The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health said in a media statement.
All public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots, beach bike paths that traverse the sanded portion of the beach, and beach access points will be temporarily closed to the public as of 12:01 a.m. on July 3, 2020, until 5 a.m. on July 6, 2020.
Beyond the closure of the beaches and banning fireworks displays, county officials are bracing for running out of hospital beds and expecting overloaded ICUs within the next two weeks.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered bars and nightspots to close in seven counties including Los Angeles where the uptick in new cases has been dramatic.
“Californians must remain vigilant against this virus,” he said. “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.”
According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times this week, coronavirus hospitalizations in the state began accelerating around June 15 — which, given the incubation period of the virus, points to Memorial Day weekend holiday barbecues, beach trips and graduation parties as potential culprits.
The analysis found that as of Sunday, June 28, 5.9 percent of coronavirus test results received over the past week are positive. That’s a significant jump from the figure the previous week, when it was 4.8 percent.
Dr. Ferrer said that her department has identified more than 100,772 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and more than 3,326 deaths as of this week.
Public Health officials noted that more than 1 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. Testing results are available for more than 1,089,000 individuals, with 9 percent of people testing positive. The cumulative positivity rate has increased from 8 to 9 percent, and the seven-day average of the daily positivity rate has increased from lowest daily rate of 4.6 percent positivity in late May to 8.4 percent now.