LOS ANGELES – As the coronavirus surges in the state, Californians celebrated Independence Day with virtual parades featuring photos of flag-draped front porches instead of pancake breakfasts and crowded festivities.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers were out and about, reminding people to wear masks in public and turning away disappointed sun-seekers from beaches that were closed to discourage crowds for the holiday weekend.
California is in a make-or-break moment, with infection rates and hospitalizations rising sharply. Gov. Gavin Newsom this week ordered the three-week closures of bars, indoor restaurant dining areas and other indoor venues for 21 of 58 counties, including the two most populous, Los Angeles and San Diego.
The country’s recent reckoning with racial injustice also marked the day.
Demonstrators in San Jose created a Black Lives Matter mural while former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Twitter: “Happy birthday, America. Thank you for letting me live the American Dream. We must fight every day to make sure that dream is as true for a Black child born in Minneapolis as it was for a white bodybuilder born in Austria.”
Many communities canceled annual fireworks shows and limited or closed beaches, changes that appeared to successfully keep crowds at bay. The beach closures that began Friday from Los Angeles County rolled northward through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In Orange County, hugely popular beaches such as Huntington and Newport closed Saturday and Sunday.
Half Moon Bay on the Pacific Coast south of San Francisco set up barricades to prevent access to its beaches. But determined beach-goers on Friday simply carried small children and gear over the blockades.
“So our sheriff's patrols were just driving up and down the coast," said Jessica Blair, communications director for the city. “It was just a revolving door of people climbing over the barricades, getting set up and getting kicked out.”