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Some California beaches closed to deter crowds amid outbreak

LOS ANGELES — Sunshine lured crowds to California beaches on Sunday despite a statewide stay-at-home order, prompting officials to close some strands and issue strong warnings for people to go back indoors.

Santa Monica closed seaside parking lots to discourage people from visiting its famous beach and help curb the coronavirus spread. Most people on the sand took care to heed guidelines to stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from others. But spacing became an issue in popular areas like the boardwalk.

“Today is not the day to go to the beach,” city manager Rick Cole said.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities closed Drakes Beach, Agate Beach and other popular coastal spots including Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock Headlands.

While shopping centers and streets were empty and churches were closed, many people rushed to the outdoors to take advantage of beautiful weekend weather. Gov. Gavin Newsom called out residents not practicing social distancing.

“It’s time to grow up, time to wake up,” Newsom said in a Saturday evening address. “Don’t be selfish.”

The governor on Sunday asked President Donald Trump to declare a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to assist in California’s COVID-19 preparedness and emergency response efforts. Newsom’s request seeks federal help with mass care and emergency assistance, unemployment assistance and disaster legal services.

The governor’s effort last week to curb the pandemic in the nation’s most populous state was by far the most sweeping and was followed by similar announcements in New York and Illinois.

California is one of the hardest-hit states, with more than 1,600 confirmed cases and 30 deaths as of Sunday.

Newsom has said infection rates of the COVID-19 virus are doubling every four days in some areas. He projected that millions could contract the virus in the next two months if aggressive prevention isn’t taken.

Newsom ordered spending $42 million in emergency funding to allow the state to lease two hospitals — Seton Medical Center in Daly City and St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles — for three months to provide care for patients with COVID-19.

The emergency fund will also be used to buy or refurbish ventilators, provide more patient transportation service and expand testing capacity at a state laboratory.

Residents have been told to keep away from others, not gather in groups and wash their hands frequently. They can go out to get food, fill prescriptions, seek medical care, care for vulnerable relatives or neighbors and get exercise, such as walking.

Gas stations, supermarkets and convenience stores were open along with auto repair shops. Those providing essential services, such as plumbers and electricians, were still on the job. But restaurants were only delivering or providing take-out.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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