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California orders bars closed in seven counties as coronavirus surges

Gov. Gavin Newsom also recommended that bars shut down in nine other counties.
Image: San Pedro Brewing Company
Jessica Ciaramitaro, Daryn Feenstra and Nicholas Soriano mix drinks while wearing masks at the bar at San Pedro Brewing Co. in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles on May 29.Ashley Landis / AP file

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered seven counties, including Los Angeles, to shutter bars Sunday as coronavirus cases surge in the state.

Newsom, the first governor to institute a statewide-stay-at-home order, in March, also recommended that nine other counties, including Sacramento, home of the state capital, do the same.

Newsom's order included several counties in the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country.

The shutdown was ordered two days after officials in Florida and Texas ordered bars closed amid soaring coronavirus case counts. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attributed the move to widespread noncompliance with the state's reopening guidelines.

Newsom told reporters Friday that the numbers of hospitalizations and intensive care patients in California had risen by more than 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, over the previous 24 hours.

During the same news conference, Newsom said he had told officials in Imperial County — a large agricultural area on the Mexican border — to reinstitute a stay-at-home order. Imperial was among the counties ordered to close its bars.

He said the county's coronavirus positivity rate was nearly 23 percent over the last two weeks, or more than four times the state's rate of 5.3 percent.

Newsom said county hospitals haven't been able to handle the influx of patients. Over the last five weeks, 500 had been moved out of the county, he said.

Citing hospital officials in Imperial County, The Associated Press reported that the spike in cases was at least partly due to U.S. citizens who live in Mexico traveling back and forth. The county of roughly 175,000 people is across the border from Mexicali, a city of 1 million.

A county supervisor, Luis Plancarte, told the AP that county officials were as worried as Newsom was.

"We hear loudly the governor's request," he said.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Newsom introduced a plan for counties to begin reopening on April 14. They would have to meet several benchmarks, including a stable hospitalization rate and a positivity rate of less than 8 percent over the previous week.

Most of the state began the phased-in process, but amid an increase in cases — an NBC News tally shows a statewide rise of 48 percent over the last two weeks — some local officials have paused their reopening plans.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Friday that barbershops, nail salons and other businesses wouldn't be allowed to open their doors Monday.

"Yesterday we saw 103 cases," she said. "On June 15, when we first reopened outdoor dining and in-store retail, we had 20. At our current rate, the number could double rapidly."