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‘Our Luck May Have Run Out’: California’s Case Count Explodes

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Los Angeles County, which has been averaging more than 2,000 new cases each day, surpassed 100,000 total cases on Monday.
Only a few weeks ago, thousands of Southern Californians were flocking to beaches, Disneyland was announcing it would soon reopen and Whoopi Goldberg was lauding Gov. Gavin Newsom on “The View” for the state’s progress in combating the coronavirus. The worst, many in California thought, was behind them.
In fact, an alarming surge in cases up and down the state was only just beginning.
Over the past week California’s case count has exploded, surpassing 200,000 known infections, and forcing Mr. Newsom to roll back the state’s reopening in some counties. On Monday, he said the number of people hospitalized in California had risen 43 percent over the past two weeks.
Los Angeles County, which has been averaging more than 2,000 new cases each day, surpassed 100,000 total cases on Monday, with the virus actively infecting one in every 140 people, according to local health officials. More than 2,800 cases were announced in the county on Monday, the most of any day during the pandemic.
On Sunday, Mr. Newsom shut down the bars in a half-dozen counties, including Los Angeles County and in the Central Valley, and recommended that another eight counties voluntarily close their nightspots and gathering places. On Friday, Imperial County, along the Mexican border, was told to return to a stay-at-home order. And Disneyland has since rescinded its decision to open its gates.
California was the first state to shut down and one of the most aggressive in fighting the virus. But the state that was so proactive in combating the spread of the coronavirus is now being forced to ask itself what went wrong.
“To some extent I think our luck may have run out,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “This is faster and worse than I expected. You have to have a ton of respect for this thing. It is nasty and it just lurks and waits to stomp on you if you let your guard down for a second.”
On Monday, the governors of New York and New Jersey said they were reconsidering plans to allow indoor dining in the coming days because they were so alarmed by the rise in coronavirus cases in the South and the West.
The head start that California appeared to enjoy — the companies that allowed employees to work from home as early as February, the governor who warned residents in daily briefings to stay home and appeared to be listened to — was not protective enough in the long run.
Younger people appear to account for the large surge in new cases, as they have in many other states. Latinos, who make up a large swath of the state’s essential work force, have also recently seen consistently high case counts.
And just as in Texas and Florida, the state’s reopening appears to have triggered a large resurgence. Pressured in part by businesses, church groups and conservatives, Mr. Newsom ceded control of much of the timing of reopening to local officials who were eager to regain a sense of normalcy and stem economic losses. The result was a decentralized, haphazard process that sowed confusion and gave residents a false sense that they were in the clear.

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