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The next big test of whether Californians can slow the spread of the coronavirus will come this holiday weekend, with officials hoping the public will refrain from the large gatherings and risky behavior that contributed to a spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths after a disastrous Memorial Day weekend.

California spent much of the summer paying the price for a rapid reopening of the economy in late May and early June, with a coronavirus surge from mid-June through the weeks after the Fourth of July that led to record deaths and new concerns about the virus spreading among young people and essential workers.

Now, Labor Day weekend — the final big holiday of the summer — poses new risks as it coincides with the easing of additional COVID-19 restrictions.

Health officials are hoping the shock of the summer will prompt people to play it safe this weekend, in part because so much is riding on keeping numbers down and to prevent history from repeating itself. If infections continue to decline, some classrooms could reopen this fall. There are also hopes that conditions will improve enough by the holiday season to allow for more in-person shopping.

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