California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered a statewide “stay at home” to begin Thursday night, following many counties in the state that are already sheltering in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus.
This announcement comes three days after six Bay Area counties, including Alameda County, ordered a regionwide “shelter in place” to last through April 7. Newsom did not place a time limit on the order, though he did say his office will make an announcement on this topic after eight weeks.
Newsom made this announcement during a press conference Thursday evening, during which he repeated that COVID-19 is likely to impact 56% of California’s population, most of whom will not have symptoms. He acknowledged that the state has 416 hospitals and that it projects that 19,543 people will need hospitalization under the scenario that the state’s Department of Public Health has outlined.
“We need to bend the curve,” Newsom said at the press conference. “In order to do that, we need to recognize the reality. The fact is the experience we’re having on the ground throughout the state of California, the experience it has manifested in the United States and, for that matter, around the rest of the world requires us to adjust our thinking and to adjust our activities.”
Earlier this month, Newsom ordered that all vulnerable populations — immunocompromised individuals and seniors aged 65 or older — stay at home, among other guidelines.
Regarding enforcement, Newsom said in the press conference that he feels “confident” that people will practice social distancing and self-regulate. Maintaining social distancing without law enforcement getting involved will involve “social pressure,” according to Newsom, who also said many who are currently practicing stay-at-home orders are adhering to the order without much law enforcement pressure.
“It’s time for all of us to recognize as individuals and as a community that we need to do more to meet this moment,” Newsom said.
The state government has made many partnerships to support this stay-at-home order and to support ongoing efforts by medical professionals to treat the disease, Newsom said at the press conference, including obtaining federal support in the form of resource distribution. The federal government has agreed to provide “hundreds of thousands” of face masks and gloves to the state, according to Newsom.
He also sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday, requesting that the USNS Mercy hospital ship be deployed to the port of Los Angeles through Sept. 1.
With the spread of COVID-19, the state has lost food bank volunteers who have decided to stay at home or were concerned about the disease, according to Newsom. The state is deploying about 500 National Guard troops to work with food banks and help with food distribution.
Similarly, Newsom added that blood banks are in need of donations, emphasizing that it is safe to donate blood.
“This is not a permanent state,” Newsom said at the press conference. “This is a moment in time and we will meet this moment together, and we will look back on these kinds of decisions as pivotal decisions. If we are to be criticized in this moment, let us be criticized for taking this moment seriously. Let us be criticized for going full force and meeting this virus head on.”
Thao Nguyen and Clara Rodas contributed to this report.
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