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More than a month after they reopened, Arizona’s bars, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks were forced to close their doors again on Monday night as new coronavirus cases explode across the state.
The closure order, which is in effect for 30 days, marks a significant about-face for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who lifted stay-at-home orders in mid-May, even earlier than White House guidelines suggested.
The state experienced a significant uptick in confirmed coronavirus infections over the last week, reporting more than 3,000 new infections in seven of the last ten days. On Monday Ducey, speaking to reporters, described the state’s coronavirus data as “brutal” — and warned the worst is yet to come.
"Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse," Ducey told reporters.
Governors across the country have begun reinforcing shutdown measures as the pandemic rages out of control in many parts of the U.S. with more than 30 states reporting rising infection rates.
Ahead of the July 4th holiday weekend, bars, beaches, and parks are being closed across the southern and western parts of the country.
Florida was one of the first states to reopen, and has seen a massive spike in coronavirus infections in the last week. Many Florida cities have shut down bars and restaurants once again, and beaches in the south of the state will be closed this weekend.
Similarly in Los Angeles County, which has become a new COVID-19 epicenter, beaches will be closed this weekend to prevent crowding, local authorities said. All public beaches, piers, car parks, bike paths, and beach access points will be shut off from midnight on July 3 until 5 a.m. PT on July 6.
In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee extended a state of emergency for two more months, until Aug. 29, with several other states including New Jersey and Michigan taking similar steps. The move allows governors to reimpose lockdown measures as they see fit.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to extend the state’s remaining pandemic restrictions for another two weeks, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The restrictions include social distancing measures for businesses and stay-at-home orders for the state’s most vulnerable residents.
While the number of cases in states like New York and New Jersey continues to decline, lawmakers there said they were concerned about the spikes in the rest of the country and were now reconsidering their plans to lift restrictions, including allowing indoor dining in restaurants, which was due to be allowed from Thursday.
Experts now see the surge in coronavirus cases as “very discouraging,” pointing out that bringing the pandemic under control would now be much more difficult than if numbers of cases nationally were declining.
“I think there was a lot of wishful thinking around the country that, ‘Hey, summer, everything is going to be fine, we’re over this,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a live-streamed interview on Monday. “And we are not even beginning to be over this.”
The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Monday that the “worst is yet to come” and that the coronavirus pandemic “is actually speeding up.”
There are similar concerns across the Atlantic, where the EU will reopen its borders on Wednesday.
The bloc announced on Tuesday morning that only travelers from a group of 14 “safe” countries would be allowed to enter. These include Canada, Australia, South Korea and possibly China, if Beijing makes a reciprocal agreement with Europe.
Because of the U.S.’s high infection rates, American travelers have been excluded.
Cover: A large crowd of young People are seen on Fort Lauderdale Beach as South Florida beaches are to close for July Fourth weekend, Florida reports another record spike in coronavirus cases, Florida's Covid-19 surge shows the state's reopening plan is not working on June 28, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida. Credit: mpi04/MediaPunch /IPX