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California governor urges state's 40 million residents to 'stay at home'

Similar restrictions are in place in virus hotspots like Italy, Spain and central China.

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters about the state's response to the coronavirus during a news conference in Sacramento
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters about the state's response to the coronavirus during a news conference in Sacramento
Image: Rich Pedroncelli via PA Images

CALIFORNIA’S GOVERNOR HAS ordered people in the most populous US state to stay home as the coronavirus pandemic’s toll continues to worsen.

Governor Gavin Newsom said that if strong action wasn’t taken, 56% of the state’s 40 million residents could contract the virus over the next eight weeks.

He expanded restrictions on non-essential movement outside of homes, saying it was necessary to control the spread of the virus, which was threatening to overwhelm California’s medical system.

Similar restrictions are in place in virus hotspots like Italy, Spain and central China.

Elsewhere in the US, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the state needs to acquire thousands of ventilators, which would help the critically ill breathe before the outbreak overwhelms hospitals.

“Every state is shopping for ventilators. We’re shopping for ventilators. We literally have people in China shopping for ventilators which is one of the largest manufacturers. So this is a major problem,” he said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered the closing of all “non-life-sustaining” businesses in the state, with exceptions for gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies and takeout restaurant service, and warned that violators could be subject to fines or imprisonment.

At a video conference with Trump, governors complained they were having difficulty obtaining such things as swabs and protective gear for doctors and nurses.

And New York Mayor Bill de Blasio lashed out at the president as “the Herbert Hoover of your generation,” referring to the man who was president when the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Depression set in.

The US Army has also prepared mobile military hospitals for deployment in major cities, and motorists waited in long lines for nurses to swab their nostrils at new US drive-thru testing sites.

A Houston hospital that opened its doors to drive-thru testing quickly saw a line of hundreds of vehicles stretching more than a mile. At a white tent, workers in masks and head-to-toe protective gear swabbed motorists. Petra Sanchez waited to find out whether she had the virus.

“I have an 80-year-old dad, and I haven’t been around him for the same reason,” she said. ”I don’t know what I have.”

The US State Department, meanwhile, warned Americans in the strongest terms yet not to travel abroad under any circumstances.

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Damage to the world’s largest economy kept increasing, with the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surging by 70,000 last week.

The US Congress is weighing a proposed $1 trillion emergency package that would dispense relief checks to households in as many as two rounds, the first of which would consist of payments of $1,000 per adult and $500 for each child.

Includes reporting by Associated Press

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