Los Angeles County beaches will be closed for the Fourth of July weekend as the total number of COVID-19 cases surged past 100,00.
Fox 11 Los Angeles reporter Bill Melugin tweeted that the closures would last from July 3-6 and those who violate the order could face a fine as high as $1,000.
BREAKING: All L.A. County beaches ordered CLOSED for 4th of July weekend 7/3 through 7/6. This new order makes it illegal to trespass at these locations and is punishable by law to include, but not limited to, a $1000 fine. @FOXLA
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) June 29, 2020
Additionally, the county is also banning firework displays for the weekend.
BREAKING: L.A. County announces they are also banning all fireworks displays for 4th of July weekend, on top of closing down all beaches. @FOXLA
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) June 30, 2020
The beach closures come as there were 2,903 new cases on June 29 and 22 new deaths, bringing the county’s respective totals to 100,772 and 3,326. The positive rate for the virus increased from 5.8% to 8.4% over the past two weeks, and the average number of hospitalizations increased from more than 1,400 to more than 1,700 over the same timeframe.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn tweeted, “We had almost 3,000 reported cases just today. We cannot risk having crowds at the beach this holiday weekend.”
Due to rising #COVID19 cases all @CountyofLA beaches will be closing again temporarily this weekend, July 3rd through 6th. We had almost 3,000 reported cases just today. We cannot risk having crowds at the beach this holiday weekend.
— Janice Hahn (@SupJaniceHahn) June 29, 2020
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said June 29 was the highest number of new cases the county has ever recorded in a day and that the county didn’t anticipate such a massive increase in cases when reopening began.
“The fast increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations are cause for all of us to have great concerns,” she said.
Officials also warned that the county could run out of hospital beds over the next couple of weeks if the trend in COVID-19 cases continues.
“The rising patient volume in our hospitals will likely fill all of the intensive care unit beds that are currently available,” County Health Public Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said.
The Los Angeles Times reported on June 29 that there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout California that can be traced back to Memorial Day weekend.
“The beckon of summer rituals followed — day trips to the beach, Memorial Day barbecues, graduation celebrations, Father’s Day gatherings,” the report stated. “Around the same time, historic protests began, triggered by outrage over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd while in police custody, which sparked unprecedented demonstrations across the nation, including in the streets of California.”
The report added: “It’s now clear that Memorial Day was the beginning of something. A Los Angeles Times analysis has found that new coronavirus hospitalizations in California began accelerating around June 15 at a rate not seen since early April.”
Ferrer said that many people in the county are not adhering to social distancing measures, pointing out that 50% of restaurants that city inspectors visited over the weekend were not following the county’s guidelines and 500,000 people visited bars after they reopened on the weekend of June 20. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, ordered bars to be closed in L.A. County on June 28 to combat the surge in COVID-19 cases.
Additionally, family gatherings also have contributed to the rise in cases, Ferrer added.
“This is going to be a different summer,” Ferrer said. “This is going to be a different July Fourth.”