Thousands Pack Southern California Beaches Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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People enjoy the beach amid the coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, California, on April 25.

The surge — sparked by a heat wave — prompted warnings from officials that defiance of stay-at-home orders could reverse progress and bring the coronavirus surging back.

A lingering heat wave lured people to Southern California beaches, rivers and trails again Sunday, prompting warnings from officials that defiance of stay-at-home orders could reverse progress and bring the coronavirus surging back.

Tens of thousands of people packed the sand at Newport Beach in Orange County, where residents compared weekend crowds to the Fourth of July and lifeguards reminded people to stay apart if they were in groups of six or more.

Neighboring Huntington Beach also saw big gatherings, despite the closure of parking lots and metered parking restricted along Pacific Coast Highway. Temperatures were close to 90 degrees.

Robin Ford surveyed the crush of visitors with concern.

"Unless all these people are in one household, it does look like they are not social distancing," Ford told the Orange County Register. "They could be spread out more."