O.C. closes county-run beaches during July 4 weekend as number of coronavirus cases climbs past 15,000

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Orange County is closing its beaches during the Fourth of July weekend as health officials scramble to avoid crowding while coronavirus infections and hospitalizations surge, officials announced Thursday.

The closure of the county-operated shorelines comes after several coastal Orange County cities announced they will be shuttering their beaches for the holiday weekend, including Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Laguna Beach.

The county beaches joining the closures are: Aliso Beach, Capistrano Beach, Salt Creek Beach, Baby Beach, Bayside Beach, Camel Point Beach, Poche Beach, Strands Beach, Table Rock Beach, Thousand Steps Beach, Treasure Island Beach and West Street Beach.

The beaches and their parking lots will be closed on both Saturday and Sunday, according to O.C. Parks.

County officials said they’re restricting access following recommendations from the state to curb the spread of the coronavirus and in response to several cities closing their shores.

“As Laguna Beach made a decision to close their beaches this weekend, and other large cities began to take their action, it was important that we aligned with them as well,” County Executive Officer Frank Kim said in a media briefing.

San Clemente and Dana Point city officials have not made announcements about closing their beaches.

State-run beaches in Orange County will remain open but their parking lots will be closed for the holiday. California State Parks officials said locals can still walk or bike in the public outdoor spaces, but gatherings are not allowed, and visitors have to practice physical distancing.

As of Thursday, Orange County had confirmed a total of 15,065 coronavirus cases with 354 deaths attributed to the respiratory illness.

The coronavirus seven-day average positivity rate in the county climbed to 10.4%, according to Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel.

There were 556 people hospitalized for the respiratory illness across the county’s hospitals Wednesday, with 193 of them in intensive care units.

There has also been more young people hospitalized for COVID-19 at the county’s hospitals, County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau said, calling the trend “concerning.”

Chau said there’s been a clear recent increase in coronavirus infections among people aged 18 to 30 years old.

Orange County officials ordered all bars to close Wednesday, a day after the county recorded the highest one-day increase in coronavirus cases amid a spike in hospitalizations. Shortly afterwards, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a superseding order that shuttered indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and other locations.

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