Californians were ordered Thursday to stay home by Gov. Gavin Newsom who announced a shelter-in-place directive for the entire state in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Before the announcement, a total of 21.3 million Californians, including San Francisco residents, were already under similar orders.
“We need to bend the curve in the state of California, ” Newsom said in a presss conference called to announce the move. He had said earlier Thursday that more than 56 percent of California residents are likely to get COVID-19 within the next two months. “Let’s bend the curve together,” he said.
He said the state needs to “broaden the order to all Californians” and acknowledged it would mean inconvenience and hardship.
“If we change this moment, we can truly change the surge,” he said in a news conference streamed live on Twitter.
“Home isolation is not my preferred choice,” Newsom said, “but it’s a necessary one” as California officials work to accommodate urgent needs.
“This is not a permanent state,” Newsom said, adding that people “can still walk their dogs,” get groceries and pickup takeout food with proper precautions.
The governor said more details would be released about who is exempt from the unprecedented statewide stay -at- home order which impacts California’s some 40 million residents.
Mayor London Breed and officials from six other Bay Area counties took a similar measure on Monday. Newsom said grocery stores would stay open, and residents could still order take out from restaurants.
San Francisco diagnosed its first two cases of COVID-19 on March 5. Confirmed cases increased to 51 as of Wednesday and increased by 19 for a total of 70 on Thursday. City officials said Thursday that they are preparing for surge in cases.
Newsom’s office projected that more than half of all Californians will be infected with coronavirus in two months, according to a letter Newsom sent President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period,” Newsom wrote. as of Thursday, 19 people have died and another 958 have tested positive for COVID-19 in California.
After releasing the letter on Thursday, the Newsom administration quickly sought to clarify its projection, saying that the number did not account for aggressive measures the state is taking to slow the spread of the virus.
The stay at home order came later in the day.
He said that among other steps the state has ordered additional ventilators, is talking with the University of California on use of dormitories, and has negotiated for hospital space in Northern and Southern California that will increase the state’s capacity by 750 beds.
The number of visitors and commuters to San Francisco has plummeted this week, with BART announcing a 90 percent drop in riders on Thursday. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge has so little traffic, officials are concerned about the money woes it will cause. Nurses at Kaiser protested Thursday, saying they are not being properly protected. The City has also moved to release some prisoners during the ongoing pandemic, fearing an outbreak behind bars.
Tribune Content Service and Bay City News contributed to this report