Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all Californians to isolate themselves at home to stop the spread of coronavirus across the state.
He said public health experts are basing the order on estimates that as many as 25 million Californians will be infected by the virus within two months, making it imperative to stop the growth now.
“The overwhelming majority won’t have symptoms, and will be perfectly fine,” Newsom said, but as many as 20,000 people will be hospitalized with serious cases.
Newsom said the California’s hospital system can surge to add about 10,000 more beds, and the state is requisitioning facilities to make up the gap. He said the state is also working with industry to increase the supply of ventilators needed by critically ill patients
“Let’s bend the cure together. Let’s not regret,” he said at an early evening press conference.
The order doesn’t have an expiration, and the governor said it will likely last at least eight weeks.
“I don’t expect this will be many, many months,” he said. “We want to get that curve down. We want these numbers to be in the dustbin of history.”
The governor said he expects residents to follow the order without the threat of law enforcement. “We are confident that the people of California will abide by it,” he said.
He also called for an end to racist attacks on Californians of Asian and other foreign background amid the pandemic.
The order requires everyone to stay at home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job. Anyone who leaves is expected to maintain a six-foot-distance between themselves and others.
Exceptions include visiting grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, restaurants that offer take-out, pharmacies, banks, gas stations and laundromats.
The order doesn’t mean that Californians can’t go outside, take a walk and exercise, provided they do so while keeping social distance.
Across California there have been 675 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths as of 12:19 p.m. Thursday.
The statewide order comes as 17 California counties have already ordered residents to shelter in place or shelter at home.