California is further rolling back the reopening of the economy as the number of people falling ill with the coronavirus continues to rise.
During a daily telebrifing on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom admitted that cases of the coronavirus “continue to spread” at a level he called “alarming.”
It’s been several weeks since he abruptly allowed the phased reopening on a county-by-county basis of in-store retail and hair salons, as well as gyms, indoor dining and bars and public parks and beaches, but the allowance of more people gathering in groups has clearly led to an increase in cases. Now, many of those businesses in the state will largely be closed again.
“We’re continuing to see hospitalization rates rise in the state, we’re continuing to see a modest increase in ICU [admissions] and we continue to experience an increase in the rate of positivity,” Newsom said.
The positivity rate for the last two weeks is up 7.4 percent, a number that shows an increase in cases is not due to an increase in testing, as President Trump and other Republican politicians have claimed. Those being hospitalized for the virus is up 28 percent over the last two weeks and ICU admissions are up 20 percent.
Given that, Newsom has ordered the reclosure of indoor malls in 30 counties in California, including Los Angeles and Orange County. All indoor operations of hair salons and barbershops, personal-care services, including spas and nail salons, and any offices for “non-critical sectors” are also ordered to close. He’s also ordered the reclosure of indoor fitness centers and religious centers or houses or worship.
The counties required to close these operations immediately are those the state is monitoring due to their increased number of cases. The 30 counties on the list represent about 80 percent of the state’s population. Last week there were 23 counties being monitored by the state.
“We’re moving to a modification mode of our original stay-at-home order,” Newsom said. “The spirit of today’s presentation is looking to activities happening inside and moving them outside.”
Sectors spared for now from the reclosure are outdoor malls and individual in-store retail operations. But as WWD reported last week, industry sources are on high alert for the reclosure in the state to impact retail overall if cases of the virus continue to rise.
Last week, Newsom ordered across the entire state the closure of other indoor services, including indoor dining, all bars and all museums. The week before that, he said he was not planning to roll back any of the reopening measures in the state, showing how rapidly the virus has started to spread as lockdown orders lifted and people increasingly went out.
And it’s not only California that’s seeing a rapid increase. Nearly every state in the U.S. is seeing cases climb every day, but particularly states such as Texas, Florida and Arizona that reopened much earlier than others. The country overall has set daily records for new cases for almost two weeks straight.
Newsom made an effort over the Fourth of July holiday weekend to close some state beaches in counties that had ordered their local beaches closed for fear of massive crowds. But that closure only lasted the weekend, and since, beaches in L.A. and Orange and Ventura Counties have been packed with recreational beachgoers.
Beyond what seem to be ill-advised crowds outdoors, there is widespread flouting by people of California’s now state-wide mandate for wearing a mask or face covering in public. As he has for the last several weeks, Newsom urged the public to follow what is now state law and wear a mask in public in order to combat the increasing spread of the virus.
“What more evidence do you need [the masks are effective] than to see other nations that have required the wearing of masks being much better off than we are right now,” he said.
But the state has gone back and forth on enforcement of the mask mandate, which seems to be largely nonexistent in Los Angeles, which mandated the wearing of a mask in public weeks before Newsom did at the state level.
“We want to encourage you to do what you know needs to be done in terms of wearing a mask and physical distancing,” he said.