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California Cases Climb to a Record as State Curfew Begins

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 11/22/2020 Linus Chua
a group of people standing in a room: People wait in line at a Covid-19 testing site at the former USD Electronics Recycling Center in San Diego, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. California Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a curfew on the vast majority of residents to curb coronavirus transmission, deepening measures to stop a rapid outbreak while stopping short of a full lockdown. © Bloomberg People wait in line at a Covid-19 testing site at the former USD Electronics Recycling Center in San Diego, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. California Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a curfew on the vast majority of residents to curb coronavirus transmission, deepening measures to stop a rapid outbreak while stopping short of a full lockdown.

(Bloomberg) -- California added 15,442 new coronavirus cases, hitting a high as the state’s evening curfew kicks in Saturday night.

The cases topped Friday’s record of 13,005 infections, bringing the total to almost 1.1 million. The number of deaths increased by 86 to 18,643, state data showed. The increased patient load left California’s hospitals with just 1,921 intensive-care unit beds available, near the low in July.

A 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew will be imposed in most counties for a month to ease the rate of infection, affecting areas that encompass 37 million people, or 94% of the population.

Only 10 countries globally have more cases than California, where the number of infections now exceeds those in Mexico and Germany, which have been hot spots for the pandemic.

Governor Gavin Newsom said earlier in the week that the curfew will stop nonessential work and gatherings to “flatten the curve again,” reflecting growing alarm among state officials as the third wave of coronavirus infections to hit the state gathers momentum.

Infections across the U.S. have surpassed 12 million, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against all travel on cruise ships, citing the high risk of infection.

The impact on businesses will be limited, and the curfew appears intended largely to prevent late-night socializing. Restaurants will need to close outdoor dining by 10 p.m., but they can continue offering takeout afterward. People working overnight shifts in factories, warehouses or logistics jobs won’t be affected. Grocery stores that are open 24 hours will be able to stay that way.

Officials have also urged residents to avoid travel and scale back Thanksgiving gatherings -- or cancel them altogether. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted Saturday to remind residents to celebrate virtually or only with members of the same household.

The number of infections in the Greater Los Angeles area increased by 4,522, bringing the total number of new cases over the last four days to 17,769. The county of about 10 million now has a total of 361,896 cases, and the daily number of patients hospitalized has almost doubled from the beginning of October, the health department said.

The county also imposed additional measures starting Friday night, including limiting capacity for retail stores, offices and restaurants. Non-essential retail outlets and restaurants must also close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., except for takeout, delivery and pick-up.

More curbs are expected in Los Angeles. Outdoor dining may be restricted if the five-day average for cases exceeds 4,000, or hospitalizations of more than 1,750 a day, the county’s health department said. When the case average is more than 4,500 or hospitalizations surpass 2,000, a stay-home order will be imposed for three weeks, it added.

(Updates with numbers from Los Angeles and possible curbs in the last three paragraphs.)

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