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California governor orders statewide stay-at-home order

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health on Feb. 27, 2020 in Sacramento, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay at home, restricting non-essential movements to control the spread of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm the state’s medical system.

“This is a moment we need to make tough decisions,” Newsom said. “We need to recognize reality.”

His move came after counties and communities covering about half the state’s population already had issued similar orders. He said the restriction is “open-ended,” and it could raise false hopes if he predicted how long the order might last.

People may still leave their homes for walks and exercise and for essential needs such as food and medical care. Restaurant meals can still be delivered to homes.

Democratic governor also announced that he is mobilizing 500 California
National Guard troops to help with food distribution, but said they
will be in place only for humanitarian reasons.

“I don’t believe
the people of California need to be told through law enforcement that
it’s appropriate just to home isolate,” he said.

Pennsylvania earlier Thursday ordered all “non life-saving businesses” to close across the state.

earlier in the day asked the president to deploy a U.S. Navy medical
ship to help the state expand its medical capacity and warned that more
than half of California’s residents could contract the new coronavirus.

asked President Donald Trump to send the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to
the port of Los Angeles for use through Sept. 1, in a letter dated
Wednesday. California has disproportionately aided people returning to
the U.S. from foreign countries and needs the ship to help “decompress”
its health care delivery system as infection rates climb, Newsom wrote.
The ship is based in San Diego.

He said infection rates are
doubling every four days in some parts of the state and issued the dire
prediction that 56% of California’s population could contract the virus
over the next eight weeks.

His spokesman later confirmed that
number does not take into account aggressive mitigation efforts underway
across the state. Many large counties had already been issuing
shelter-in-place orders aimed at keeping Californians confined to their
homes and Newsom had directed the closure of bars, gyms and other
gathering spaces statewide.

“This 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 this
projection,” spokesman Nathan Click said in an emailed statement.

letter to Trump said 25.5 million people could be infected. But the
state’s population is estimated to be just shy of 40 million, meaning
56% of the population would be closer to 22.4 million people. The
governor’s office did not respond to questions about his calculation or
offer a prediction that considers efforts to stop the spread of the

“If we meet this moment we can truly bend the curve to
reduce the need to surge, to reduce the need to have to go out and
cobble all those assets together,” Newsom said in his evening news
conference streamed live on social media.

For most people, the new
coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and
cough. It can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, for some
people, especially older adults and those with existing health problems.
Most people recover — those with mild illness in about two weeks, while
those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks, according
to the World Health Organization.

“I can assure you home isolation
is not my preferred choice, I know it’s not yours, but it’s a necessary
one,” Newsom said. “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in

“You can still take your kids outside, practicing common
sense and social distancing. You can still walk your dog,” he said. “If
we are to be criticized at this moment, let us be criticized for taking
this moment seriously.”

In a separate letter, Newsom on Thursday
asked U.S. House and Senate leaders for $1 billion to support surge
planning for state and local health systems. He said that money would be
needed to do things like set up state-run and mobile hospitals, housing
options to help people socially distance and testing and treatment for
people without health insurance.

He also asked for assistance so
the state can extend unemployment benefits beyond the usual 26-week
limit, expand food assistance programs, resources for the homeless and
tribal communities and boost childcare programs. He further asked for
assistance for schools, aid to local and state budgets and
transportation relief.

“While California has prudently built a
sizable Rainy Day Fund over the past ten years, the economic effects of
this emergency are certain to mean that the state and its 58 counties
will struggle to maintain essential programs and services,” he wrote.

It warned many California households “may fall into poverty” without a “substantial economic intervention.”

not everyone was following orders to stay home. In a Northern
California county where officials have ordered residents to stay home
and non-essential businesses to close because of the coronavirus
pandemic, a gun shop is refusing.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt.
Ray Kelley said Thursday that a gun shop called Solar Tactical remains
open, despite the order. He said officers have advised the shop to

“We’ll start out nice,” Kelley said. “Then we’ll post a notice to close and then we will take enforcement.”

Tactical did not answer phone calls nor immediately respond to messages
sent through its website. A message on its Facebook page said the store
is now operating on an appointment-only basis and urged customers to
call local police to protest the effort to close it.

“Your 2nd
Amendment right is no longer considered essential during forced shelter
in place,” the shop said. “Please share and get the word out. Call your
local officials, news stations, and Alameda County Sheriffs office to
let them know how you feel about your 2nd Amendment rights being taken

Gun sales have spiked as consumers who worried that people
are becoming desperate and unpredictable amid the outbreak rushed to buy
weapons and ammunition.