Beaches will be closed across California and Florida for the US’s Independence Day holiday weekend as the country battles a surging wave of COVID-19 infections.
Los Angeles County made the announcement for its on Tuesday morning (Australian time), after an “alarming” one-day spike of nearly 3000 new COVID-19 infections.
California has had more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases and public health officials warns its hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.
Local authorities said they would close beaches, piers, bike paths and beach access points from July 3-6 to try to slow the surge, which has been blamed on the reopening of businesses and recreational activities in recent weeks.
It comes after Florida officials said beaches in the state’s Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties would also be closed for the July 4 holiday.
Florida and Texas also ordered the closure of all their recently reopened bars on Friday.
California followed with closure orders for bars in Los Angeles and six other counties on Sunday. All three states are battling a new wave of COVID-19 infections as the US emerges from weeks of clamp-downs on residents and businesses
Los Angeles and neighbouring counties have become a new epicentre in the coronavirus pandemic. Cases and hospitalisations have surged, despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s strict order last week requiring masks in nearly all public spaces.
“The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalisations signals that we, as a community, need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Los Angeles County director of public health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement on Monday announcing the sharp upswing.
“Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our healthcare system and seeing even more devastating illness and death.”
AMC, the US’s largest movie theatre chain, said on Monday it was pushing back reopening its cinemas to July 30 from July 15.
As virus cases surge across the US, Arizona and Georgia have also had record numbers of new cases in the past week. Throughout June, 22 US states have had record surges, often multiple times, including Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Utah.
In Texas, Democrats leading the biggest metropolitan areas have renewed calls for Governor Greg Abbott to give them the authority to make similar decisions on mandatory mask wearing and social distancing to protect their hard-hit populations.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Monday that indoor dining would no longer resume on Thursday in the state as planned and would be postponed indefinitely.
In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly imposed a statewide mandate requiring residents to wear masks in public spaces, a move she said was necessary to avoid another shutdown.
Face coverings have become a political issue across the country, with some conservative politicians and many supporters of US President Donald Trump arguing that such mandates are unconstitutional.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, venue for part of the Republican nominating convention in August, said on Twitter it would require masks for all public locations starting later on Monday.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that Mr Trump “has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests”.