LOS ANGELES—California will begin to require counties to bring down coronavirus infection rates in disadvantaged communities that have been harder hit by the pandemic, a move that could slow the methodical reopening of the nation’s most populous state.The complex new rules set in place an “equity metric” that will force larger counties to control the spread of COVID-19 in areas where Black, Latino and Pacific Islander groups have suffered a disproportionate share of the cases because of a variety of socioeconomic factors.“We can’t allow transmission rates to be so disproportionately impacting those communities without significant effort to really reduce that disparity and reduce the burden on those communities,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health secretary, said Thursday.The measure could further put the brakes on the state’s conservative approach to a return to business as usual after a more rapid reopening of a larger segment of the economy in the spring, including allowing bars and indoor restaurant dining, was accompanied by surge of infections in early summer.The latest reopening plan that took effect in August is a four-step process based on the percentage of positive tests and per capita new cases in each of the 58 counties. It allows counties to

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