California was hailed for its successful early response to the coronavirus, which kept the state’s epidemic curve relatively flat — until recently.
The state set new records for daily infections over the last week.
Experts say parts of the state reopened too early.
Racial and income disparities have also led outbreaks to grow in some southern California communities.
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California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order to stop the coronavirus’ spread. And it worked: For a few months after that mid-March directive, California’s curve remained flat, with fewer than 2,000 new cases reported each day.
But in the last two weeks, California has ceased to be the country’s shining example. The state hit its record number of new cases in a single day — more than 7,000 — on June 23, according to government data. Added up, California has also recorded more than 40,000 new COVID-19 cases since June 20, which pushed its case total over 215,000.
“In the last seven days, we’ve seen a 45% increase in the total number of cases that have tested positive in the state of California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference on Monday.
On Sunday, Newsom ordered bars in seven southern California counties to close, and recommended that health officials in eight additional counties do the same. He mandated the use of face masks statewide starting June 18.
“What we did wrong was to start to open things back up too soon,” John Swartzberg, a professor of infectious diseases at UC Berkeley, told Business Insider.
California lifted statewide restrictions while daily case numbers were still rising. The state didn’t see either of the downward trends recommended in White House guidelines — a two-week decline in cases or a two-week decline in the share of tests coming back positive — before reopening.
The state’s surge has mirrored trends in many other states that also reopened without seeing a steady decline in cases. The US recorded an all-time high of more than 45,000 new coronavirus infections on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
California’s challenges have also been complicated by a patchwork of differing local rules among counties. Specifically, southern California locked down later than the San Francisco Bay Area, then reopened businesses earlier, so the state’s cases are disproportionately concentrated around Los Angeles and San Diego.
“What happened to California? It’s called a pandemic,” Swartzberg said.
California took early action to shut down but reopened too soon
Some of the US’s first coronavirus cases were detected in the Bay Area in February. The region’s six counties took the country’s quickest, most decisive action, issuing a joint shelter-in-place order on March 17. The rest of California followed suit within days.
“We were cautious by wearing masks and social distancing — it really helped,” Swartzberg said.
But days make a difference when a virus is spreading exponentially, and the fact that southern California’s lockdown came three days after the Bay Area’s partially explains why its outbreak has been worse since …read more
Source:: Business Insider