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Coronavirus Today: California rolls back reopening

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Wednesday, July 1. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered indoor restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, entertainment centers, movie theaters, zoos, museums and card rooms to close for at least three weeks in 19 counties struggling to contain the coronavirus’ spread. The counties ordered to shut down indoor operations are Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.

The new restrictions arrive ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, a time typically spent visiting beaches, watching fireworks and hanging out with friends. Officials fear such celebrations would propel the recent increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths to new heights in the next few weeks and overwhelm a medical system already under growing strain. “If those same practices occurred, we could be back with even a further spike upon our spike that we’re having now,” a UCLA epidemiologist said.

Medical experts have been watching the case numbers in cities that saw large-scale protests against police violence to see whether they contributed to the rise in infections. In what’s considered the first systematic look at the question, researchers found that among 13 cities involved in the earliest wave of protests after Memorial Day, only Phoenix had an increase that would fit a pattern of an explosion of cases within two weeks. And that wave of cases arrived after a decision by Gov. Doug Ducey to end Arizona’s stay-at-home order on May 15 and ease restrictions on businesses.

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A new data visualization tool from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health seeks to help researchers, policymakers and the public understand the relationship between reopening measures and new cases in each state.

A timeline of coronavirus cases and reopening milestones in California
A timeline of newly confirmed coronavirus cases in California, juxtaposed against reopening milestones in the state.
(Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center)

“We can’t infer causality from this data, but we can make observations,” a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist said.

In looking at Texas and Arizona — which, like California, have seen an explosion in disease transmission — “what we are seeing is a first opening, a pause, and then a whole bunch of openings right after each other,” she said. “It seems after that is when we see a rise in cases.”

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The Times is keeping an eye on what’s opened and closed around California with our reopening tracker. You can also check out the “Your Questions Answered” section of this newsletter for a roundup of the Southern California beaches, parks and trails that have restrictions this weekend.

By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 3:30 p.m. PDT Wednesday:

More than 235,200 California cases and at least 6,122 deaths as of 3:30 p.m. PDT Wednesday, July 1.
(Compiled by L.A. Times Graphics)

Track the latest numbers and how they break down in California with our graphics.

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The Newsom administration's roadmap to reopening California.
(Priya Krishnakumar/Los Angeles Times)

See which counties are reopening with our tracker.

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Across California

Despite pleas from counties for additional assistance, California says it can no longer afford to fund new coronavirus testing sites — and it has closed some locations and moved them elsewhere. It also has threatened to pull testing out of underused sites, according to interviews with local health officials. Newsom has voiced concern about the testing price tag, given the budget shortfalls. Counties argue that there’s a public health benefit to keeping underperforming locations open, simply to ensure that testing is available to rural and disenfranchised communities.

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In Los Angeles, a number of projects funded by Proposition HHH have fallen behind schedule three years after voters approved the $1.2-billion homeless housing bond. The coronavirus has disrupted contractors’ schedules and dragged out inspections. In addition, some projects are being delayed even before construction can begin because the federal rent subsidies crucial to their financing are drying up.

Because of the recent increases in infections, the L.A. City Council has voted to postpone ticketing cars during street sweeping to August. The city will not ticket vehicles that are parked in rush-hour and anti-gridlock zones or in residential areas during street sweeping or that have expired registration.

Rural Lassen County held a pandemic distinction as one of the only counties in California with zero confirmed cases of COVID-19. That changed when prison transfers of people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison to the California Correctional Center in Susanville sparked a massive outbreak. Local officials say the state’s movement of infected prisoners now poses a grave danger to their community. “At this time, we should not be moving inmates around,” state Sen. Brian Dahle said.

Resources

— For general safety, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (here’s a super-fun how-to video). Stop touching your face, and keep your phone clean. Practice social distancing, maintaining a six-foot radius of personal space in public. And wear a mask if you leave home. Here’s how to do it right.
— Watch for symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell. If you’re worried you might be infected, call your doctor or urgent care clinic before going there.
— Need a COVID-19 test? Here’s how to receive a free test if you’re in L.A. County. And here’s a map of testing sites across California.
— Here’s how to care for someone with COVID-19, from monitoring their symptoms to preventing the virus’ spread.
— If your job has been affected by the pandemic, here’s how to file for unemployment.
— Here are some free resources for restaurant workers and entertainment industry professionals having trouble making ends meet.
— Advice for helping kids navigate pandemic life includes being honest about uncertainties, acknowledging their feelings and sticking to a routine. Here’s guidance from the CDC.
— In need of mental health services? Here are resources for coping during the crisis from the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Public Health. L.A. County residents can also call (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.
Tempted to go out now that the economy is reopening? Here’s how you can assess your risk.

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Around the nation and the world

A new study estimates that the true number of U.S. deaths linked to the pandemic is as much as 28% higher than the official tally. That means that for every 3.5 known deaths, another person also lost their life to COVID-19. “Official tallies likely undercount deaths due to the virus,” the researchers said in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences is coming under scrutiny for agreements activists say will restrict global access to remdesivir, an experimental antiviral that has shown promise in treating COVID-19. The company has signed confidential licensing deals with nine drugmakers — including seven in India — that would prevent the generic version from being distributed in dozens of countries, including the U.S., that account for nearly half the world’s population. Activists and civil society organizations say the licenses let Gilead control the global supply of its patented drug.

In an unexpected development, Democrats drove a temporary extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through the GOP-controlled Senate late Tuesday. The loan program for small businesses, set to expire with money still unspent, would be extended through Aug. 8.

Broadway theater performances in New York City will remain suspended at least through the end of the year because of the pandemic. Returning productions are expected to resume over a string of rolling dates early next year, with ticket sales starting soon. Broadway theaters now offer refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for performances through Jan. 3.

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Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: What’s closed outdoors in Southern California this weekend? Here’s the most recent update from the Times Travel team.

Beaches. In addition to closing many businesses’ indoor operations, Newsom said Wednesday that the state would be closing parking lots at state beaches throughout Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area for the weekend.

Beaches in Ventura and L.A. counties are off-limits, with the closures covering public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots, bike paths that traverse the sanded portion of the beach, and beach access points.

In Orange County, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach officials will close their namesake beaches on Saturday. So far, beaches in San Diego and Santa Barbara counties are set to stay open.

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Parks and trails. In Griffith Park, rangers are putting traffic limits in place to reduce crowds in the late afternoon and evening. Monrovia Canyon Park is open to ticketed visitors from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays but is closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays; access to the Waterfall Trail remains closed.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which straddles Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has reopened most of its trails, parking lots, overlooks and restrooms.

Most L.A. County trails will remain open, but Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena requires reservations to limit crowd sizes.

If you plan to visit a park or trail, go online first for a rundown of site-specific restrictions.

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Got a question? Our reporters covering the coronavirus outbreak want to hear from you. Email us your questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them. You can find more answers in our Frequently Asked Questions roundup and on our coronavirus roundup page.

For the most up-to-date coronavirus coverage from The Times, visit our homepage and our Health section, listen to our “Coronavirus in California” podcast and follow us on Twitter and on Instagram.


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