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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

California’s Newsom creates ‘strike teams’ to enforce business shutdowns amid coronavirus surge

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he has set up “multi-agency strike teams” to make sure businesses across the state are adhering to his orders to close shop as cases of COVID-19 surge.

The announcement by Newsom comes as he ordered a number of businesses across 19 of the state’s counties to suspend their indoor operations. During a press briefing, the governor said that restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms must halt all indoor operations.

Newsom, who earlier this week ordered bars to close in a number of California counties, extended that mandate to include drinking establishments in other counties.

The strike teams — which will consist of members from the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Highway Patrol and other departments — will target “non-compliant workplaces.”

Restaurants will still be allowed to offer food for pick-up or delivery. Newsom’s new order lasts for three weeks.

“We’ll be looking at the health orders in relation to indoor vs. outdoor activities, the Fourth of July,” Newsom said Tuesday. “More broadly, beyond the Fourth of July.”

California on Monday recorded its highest daily coronavirus count for the third time in just over a week with 8,000 infections while also surpassing 6,000 deaths, officials said.

The uptick comes as the virus continues to make a resurgence after months of unprecedented orders to combat its spread. Newsom said Monday that hospitalizations have increased 43 percent over a two-week period, as well as a 37 percent increase of patients admitted to intensive care units during the same timeframe.

The COVID-19 positivity rate increased to nearly 6 percent, he said.

Statewide, more than 232,600 cases have been reported, in addition to over 6,000 deaths, according to the state Department of Public Health.

There is widespread concern among lawmakers in the state that the pandemic could worsen as people celebrate the July Fourth Holiday over the weekend — much like it did when people crowded beaches and outdoor spots during the Memorial Day weekend.

Los Angeles County — the epicenter of the virus in the state — ordered all beaches closed for the holiday weekend after an “alarming” spike in new COVID-19 cases.

All parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will also be closed for the upcoming weekend. The closures reverse the reopening process that began weeks ago after months of unprecedented lockdowns.

In his announcement, Newsom pleaded with Californians to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“Wearing a face covering is a sign of toughness,” he said. “It’s a sign of resolve. It’s a sign of someone who gives a da–.”

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