(CN) - Californians were ordered to stay home on Thursday as Governor Gavin Newsom made the monumental order in an effort to curb the rise of Covid-19 infections among the 40 million residents in the state.
"We direct a statewide order for people to stay at home. That directive goes into force this evening," Newsom said. “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time. If we are to be criticized, let us be criticized for taking this moment seriously and for meeting this virus full force."
The governor said this is an open-ended order with no solid deadline. For the time being, the next 8 weeks are going to be critical to get the curb of rising infection rates down, he said.
“We will be very transparent with you and forthright in the next days and weeks on where we believe we are,” said Newsom.
Newsom said pandemic preparation scenarios state officials have gone over for years are now being put into action. In a scenario where 56% of Californians become infected by the novel coronavirus, the state would have shortfall of 10,000 available hospital beds.
In California, there are 416 hospitals, with approximately 78,000 available beds and the ability to surge beyond that is a real scenario, Newsom said. If there were just 20% who needed hospitalization, about 19,500 who became severely ill, the state would be short about 10,000 beds.
“That’s currently what we’re up against,” Newsom said.
But that scenario is just a “planning doc” said Newsom, which is why he ordered the home isolation to slow the spread of the infection across the state.
On Thursday, California requested the federal government send a U.S. Navy hospital ship to dock at the Port of Los Angeles through Sept. 1 to help decompress the state’s health care system. Newsom also requested public health emergency funding for preparedness and the impact to the economy.
Los Angeles County announced the closure of all non-essential retail businesses on Thursday in an order that extends to over 10 million residents in an attempt to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus and bars the gathering of 10 or more people in enclosed spaces.
Several hours earlier LA County health officials announced the second death of an infected person due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the 19th death in California. LA County’s order goes into effect at midnight and will remain in place through April 19, the latest effort to promote social distancing in one of the largest and densely populated counties in the Golden State.
"Nobody is locked down," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a Thursday evening press conference. "This is stay at home, because you're safer at home."
Garcetti added, “We need to be painfully honest about how life is going to change for a while.”
“The data is crystal clear, we're at a point where the increase and the rate of increase ... and we all know there's not enough tests ... it's the same rate that we see in a place like Italy," Garcetti said. "We're trying to intervene earlier."
He added that it was an order and not a request.
Italy surpassed China for the greatest number of deaths related to Covid-19 virus, with 3,405 deaths, according to the Italian Civil Protection Agency on Thursday. Criticism against the Italian government highlighted the nation’s residents did not practice social distancing and did not move fast enough to close down large-scale events.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said, “We know this will have an impact on the social fabric of our communities.”
While not as severe as San Francisco’s shelter in place, LA County’s own “Stay Safe At Home” policy will allow markets, pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, gas stations, childcare services and food banks to remain open.
There are currently 231 infected individuals in LA County, including the cities of Pasadena and Long Beach and two deaths, with the most recent being an individual that health officials describe as a “young person” with underlying health conditions.
Approximately 1,700 people have been tested as of Thursday, said LA County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
Under the “Stay Safe At Home” order, for-profit businesses will be ordered to close and bars any gatherings outside of a single home.
Sacramento County made its own “Shelter in Place” directive mandatory starting at midnight, which directs all businesses and governmental agencies to stop all nonessential operations at physical locations. The Sacramento order also prohibits any non-essential travel.
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