The Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, announced all of its beaches and other outdoor facilities must be closed this weekend during Independence Day celebrations amid rising concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic would be out of control.
“Even though this is a holiday weekend and we know that you want to celebrate with those closest to you, gatherings with people not from your household are not permitted and put everyone at risk of COVID-19,” the county’s health department tweeted Tuesday.
According to an order issued by the county in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent crowding that can result in more people becoming infected, all LA beaches, piers, beach parking lots, and beach bike paths will be closed from local time 12:01 a.m. (1901 GMT) on July 3 to 5:00 a.m. (1200 GMT) on July 6.
Meanwhile, traditional fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend were prohibited, the department said, adding it is a difficult decision.
The county saw steep increases in community spread. On Monday, officials announced more than 2,900 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic started.
California State and local officials are closely watching the latest figures of Los Angeles as they weigh when and how to reopen. One metric is that the county has to keep the number of new cases over the last 14 days under 25 per 100,000 residents.
The county currently fails that test. Over the last two weeks by Tuesday, officials saw 27,126 confirmed new cases, or 269 per 100,000.
Projections by the department also show a marked increase in hospitalizations in the coming weeks, which could strain the county’s healthcare system, as the data showed that in the past two weeks hospitalizations increased by 27 percent.
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that officials predicted the county could run out of hospital beds in two to three weeks, and ICU beds sometime in July.