California Gov. Gavin Newsom calls for statewide 'stay at home' order to combat COVID-19 outbreak

SACRAMENTO (KFSN) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a statewide "stay at home" order to combat the COVID-19 outbreak on Thursday.

The state is not expected to use law enforcement to enforce the order at this time; rather, Newsom said he's counting on "social pressure" and regulatory enforcement to encourage people to follow the order. There is no end date set for the order to be lifted.

In a news conference on Thursday night, Newsom announced the decision amid predictions that about 56% of the state's population - 25.5 million people - could be infected with the novel coronavirus within the next eight weeks if precautions were not taken. Newsom released the "worst-case" predictions in a letter to President Donald Trump.

Newsom added that if 56% of the population were infected, roughly 20% could require hospitalization, and the state could potentially be short on hospital beds. He hopes Thursday's action reduces the number of people requiring hospitalization.

He also called on 500 California National Guard servicemembers to help communities with food bank distributions after seeing a drop in volunteers as the outbreak grows. Blood banks are also in need of blood, and he added it's safe to donate.

California hospitals have roughly 7,500 ventilators, with around 700 more expected to be sent out from state reserves.

The governor also spoke multiple times about "bending the curve" in reference to these precautions keeping the surge of cases in California as low as possible over the coming weeks.

The letter to President Trump, dated March 18, echoes a phone conversation with Trump on Tuesday in which Newsom formally requested that the Navy's USNS Mercy, the largest hospital ship in the world, be deployed to California.

"The acquisition of the Mercy here off the coast of the state of California would provide additional 1,000 bed capacity, provides support for pharmacists and other diagnostic equipment," said Newsom.

"This resource will help decompress the health care delivery system to allow the Los Angeles region to ensure that it has the ability to address critical acute care needs, such as heart attacks and strokes or vehicle accidents, in addition to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases," Newsom said.

A spokesperson for the governor said the projection shows why it's so critical that Californians take action to slow the spread of the disease - and those mitigation efforts aren't taken into account in those numbers. The spokesperson added that the state is deploying every resource at its disposal to meet this challenge and is continuing to ask for the federal government's assistance in this fight.

Newsom said Wednesday that the state typically received an average of 2,000 unemployment insurance claims a day, but on Tuesday, received 80,000.

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