California was seen as an early success case in combating COVID-19, shutting down early and getting the numbers low enough so that Gov. Gavin Newsom felt comfortable in starting to reopen the state. Now, however, the coronavirus has come roaring back, and in LA County especially, the state's epicenter for the virus, things look especially concerning. The New York Times reports that on Monday, the county saw more than 2,800 new cases, the most of any day during the pandemic, with more than 100,000 people overall now infected—translating to an infection in 1 out of every 140 people. These new numbers are now leading to worries about hospital capacity: The county estimates it will run out of ICU beds sometime next month, and hospital beds overall in just a few weeks. "We didn't expect to see increases that were this steep so quickly," a biostatistician tells the Los Angeles Times.
The NYT lays out how, after California counties started some of the nation's earliest shutdowns in mid-March, the numbers dropped, and in May, Newsom started to feel real pressure to reopen the state. Residents didn't exactly take a slow-and-steady approach to reentry when that happened: On the weekend of June 20, when bars were once again open in LA County, a half-million people visited their favorite watering holes. Newsom has since closed bars and nightclubs again in seven counties, using what he calls a "dimmer switch" in LA County and other hard-hit areas, per Deadline. "We know what to do," says state Sen. Richard Pan. "We're just not doing it." Barbara Ferrer, LA County's public health director, has her own plea. "This is the time to hunker down back in your home whenever you can," she says. "Let's not let go of everything we worked hard and sacrificed for." (Read more Los Angeles County stories.)