As California Gov. Gavin Newsom faces pushback for his expected order to close all California beaches this weekend, the state saw a dramatic increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases, reaching the highest number of new cases recorded in a single day since the pandemic began.
Throughout the state, there were 2,380 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in California to 48,770, according to data compiled by this news organization. The new cases Wednesday represent a 91% increase from the day before and a 3% increase from April 20, when the state had 2,312 news cases, previously the highest recorded number of new cases in a single day.
Los Angeles County accounted for 63% of the new cases, reporting 1,509 on Wednesday, according to this news organization’s data. That’s also the highest number of new cases ever recorded in a single day in that county. The day before, Los Angeles had 559 new cases, and, like the rest of California, had been on a downward pace in recording new daily cases since April 20, when it recorded a then-high of 1475 new cases.
Other Southern California counties saw big jumps in new cases Wednesday. They include Riverside, which, with 3,942 total COVID-19 cases, has the second highest number of cases in the state. Riverside reported 207 new cases, a 125% increase from the day before. The others were Orange and San Bernardino counties, which each had 101 new cases, increases of 83% and 304%, respectively.
The number of deaths in the state also continued to climb to a total of 1,943. There were only 78 new deaths reported Wednesday. That’s a 33% drop from April 22, when the state reported 188 deaths, the highest number in a single day.
The state Department of Public Health also reported that the number of COVID-19 tests reported statewide had reached 603,139 on Monday, a 4% increase from the day before.
Prior to Wednesday, the number of new daily cases had begun to slow in California, offering an encouraging sign that the state was on track to meet one of Newsom’s requirements for moving it out of its current stay-at-home ordering and allowing schools, business and workplaces to gradually reopen.
The Bay Area, in contrast to Los Angeles and the rest of this state, continued to see the pace slow in the number of new cases Wednesday, according to this news organization’s data. It reported 149 new cases, which brought its total number of cases to 8,101. The new cases Wednesday represent a 9% drop from the day before.
The number of new COVID-19-related deaths reported daily also continued to slow in the Bay Area. There were seven deaths on Wednesday, bringing the region’s total to 283. But Wednesday’s reported deaths represents a 66% decrease from the 21 deaths recorded on April 22.
In fact, Santa Clara County, once the region’s epicenter of its COVID-19 crisis, recorded its lowest number of new cases in a single day — just 12 — since the pandemic began.
On Wednesday, public health officials in six Bay Area County counties announced that shelter in place would continue through May 31. But the officials — in Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties — also began the process of moving the region towards normalization by loosening restrictions on some outdoor activities and businesses such as construction and golf, as well as some forms of childcare.
On Tuesday, Newsom talked about how schools could possibly reopen in July, as his office laid out a four-stage plan for letting lower-risk businesses and workplaces resume operations in the next few weeks — as long as social distancing continued to push down the number of new cases.
But Newsom expressed dismay at images of people thronging to beaches in Southern California last weekend despite the social distancing order. Some 80,000 people flocked to Newport Beach in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, with additional thousands gathering at open beaches in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported.
On Wednesday, Newsom sent a memo to police chiefs around the state, ordering them to close all beaches up and down the California coastline, Eric Nunez, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, told the Associated Press.
Most Bay Area counties have already closed beaches, with the exception of Santa Cruz County, which had allowed people wide use of beaches for exercise and as long they followed recommended social distancing practices.
But Santa Cruz County officials revisited their regulations this week after people, including visitors from out of the county, crowded its coastal spots and created traffic hazards along Highway 1. On Wednesday, officials announced they would be closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for water-based activities such as surfing or swimming, and otherwise only open for activities like walking or running.
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