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Gov. Newsom to order all California beaches closed, police memo says

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The Democratic governor will shut down the beaches despite a DHS report that sunlight and warm weather can kill coronavirus.

VALERIE MACON/AFP

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will order all California beaches and state parks to close starting Friday, according to a police memo. The closure of beaches is a response to tens of thousands of Californians who flocked to the handful of beaches that were open last weekend despite the governor's stay-at-home order.

On Wednesday evening, the California Police Chiefs Association sent a memo to its members about the closing of beaches. Newsom is expected to announce the order to close all beaches and state parks on Thursday.

California Police Chiefs Association President Eric Nuñez said the bulletin was sent to police chiefs early to give them time to implement plans.

"We wanted to give all of our members a heads-up about this in order to provide time for you to plan for any situations you might expect as a result, knowing each community has its own dynamics," the memo says.

Most state parks and beaches have been closed for weeks, but a few had remained open during the coronavirus pandemic. Last weekend, about 40,000 people went to Newport Beach, in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, as warmer weather arrived. There were also large crowds at Huntington Beach, southeast of Los Angeles.

Three people were arrested last weekend at a San Diego County beach after they participated in a protest against Newsom's stay-at-home orders.

Newsom lashed out at Californians visiting the beaches.

"Those images are an example of what not to see ... what not to do if we're going to make the meaningful progress that we've made in the last few weeks extend into the next number of weeks," Newsom said. "The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order."

Last Friday, Newsom warned Californians not to violate his stay-at-home order.

"It's going to be nice outside this weekend. You might be feeling cooped up. Ready for life to go back to 'normal.' But can't stress this enough: CA can only keep flattening the curve if we stay home and practice physical distancing. You have the power to literally save lives."

On Thursday, the Democratic governor instructed his constituents to stay at home.

Newsom tweeted, "Going to REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT: CA is flattening the curve because folks are staying home. Practicing physical distancing. We aren't out of the woods yet. We must continue to take this seriously and allow our re-opening to be guided by science and public health."

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner acknowledged that Newsom has the authority to shut down the state's beaches, but said the decision is "not wise."

"Medical professionals tell us the importance of fresh air and sunlight in fighting infectious diseases, including mental health benefits," Wagner said Wednesday. "Moreover, Orange County citizens have been cooperative with California state and county restrictions thus far. I fear that this overreaction from the state will undermine that cooperative attitude and our collective efforts to fight the disease, based on the best available medical information."

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security touted a study that found heat, humidity, and sunlight could help kill the coronavirus.

"Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus both [on] surfaces and in the air," said William Bryan, acting head of the Science and Technology Directorate at the DHS, during a White House press briefing. "We've seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature or humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus."

The "emerging results" found that COVID-19 dies the quickest in the presence of direct sunlight, Bryan said. The study claimed that when the temperature was between 70-75 degrees and 20% humidity, the half-life of the coronavirus was 18 hours. When the temperature was 95 degrees and 80% humidity, the half-life of coronavirus was only one hour.

Bryan added that it said it would be "irresponsible for us to say summer will kill the virus," but said that summer conditions are "another tool in toolbox" to use against COVID-19.

California has nearly 49,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,954 COVID-19 deaths.

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