Gov. Gavin Newsom declares statewide shutdown | News | Palo Alto Online |


Gov. Gavin Newsom declares statewide shutdown

New mandate extends shelter-at-home order to all areas, prepares for more than 19K hospitalizations

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide shelter-at-home order on Thursday evening, with all but essential functions to be shut down. The order is open-ended, he said.

The mandate is in response to state models that predict millions of potential infections in the next eight weeks. At last count, the state has more than 1,030 confirmed cases and had 18 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Under the grim projections, 56% of the state's 40 million Californians could become infected by the new coronavirus in the next two months. The 56%, which Newsom called an "attack rate," combines many levels of illness, including people who are asymptomatic, mildly ill or hospitalized.

An estimated 19,533 people could be hospitalized, he noted. As frightening as those numbers seem, Newsom said that scenario could be greatly reduced if people heed the order immediately and stay at home. "Flattening the curve" or the trajectory of infection would save many lives and reduce the intense pressure on the medical system, he said.

Working together, residents would not be "victims of circumstance" but have control over their fate.

"We want these numbers to be in the dustbin of history," he said.

State authorities are preparing for the worst-case scenario, however. Currently, California has 416 hospitals with 78,000 beds. The state can add more than 10,000 beds, but it would still have a 10,000-bed gap. It also needs an additional 10,000 personnel to staff those beds should the projected number of severely ill patients materialize.

The state is cobbling together resources to close the deficit: Today it secured Seton Hospital in northern California; tomorrow the state will announce which hospital in southern California it has secured, for a combined 750 beds. It is also looking at leveraging university and college dormitories through the University of California system.

Newsom said he spoke with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence about setting up mobile medical and field units. The federal government is also freeing up stockpiles of protective medical gear, including glasses, gloves, masks and gowns.

The state had 21 million N-95 protective masks in its stockpile and has distributed 11 million to hospitals and other facilities. Authorities can distribute another 10 million from that cache. In addition, the first of four shipments from the national stockpile as promised by Trump are about to be delivered and distributed, and another order is on its way, he said.

California hospitals also have 7,587 ventilators. Another 514 are in the state's Department of Public Health cache, plus there are 200 in other caches, he said. The state has also ordered another 200 ventilators. Newsom said the state is also working with corporate leaders to repurpose manufacturing facilities to build additional units.

He did not mention the often-reported dearth of COVID-19 test kits or the progress of distribution of the kits and testing — a critical component of learning how many people are infected and where the virus is spreading. In California, 16,900 COVID-19 tests have been taken as of March 18 at 6 p.m., of which there were 6,300 results completed and the rest of which are still pending, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Newsom also touched on other critical needs the state is planning to address. The state will mobilize 500 members of the National Guard to distribute food to help make up for the manpower deficit from dwindling numbers of food bank volunteers.

Much of the focus of effort has been in urban areas hard hit by the virus, including Santa Clara County. Newsom said he plans to increase aid to other areas of the state, including possibly using resources from the Department of Defense in areas such as central California.

He also spoke in general terms about ways to enforce the stay-at-home order. At this time, compliance will not rely on law enforcement. Instead, social pressure and social awareness will be the dominant enforcement tool. The state and counties do have other means to push compliance: licensing and regulatory enforcement related to businesses, he said.

He said the state will also step up aggressive enforcement against xenophobia. In an allusion to racism against Asians, who are being targeted because the disease started in China, he recalled the dark history of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which he called "a black eye in the history of America."

Twenty-seven percent of the state's population is foreign-born, he noted. To address the challenges ahead, Californians must meet in a spirit of collective humanity and work together, he said.

In a statement issued Thursday night, Santa Clara County leaders were "pleased" by the news of Newsom's executive order.

"As the novel coronavirus continues to spread in our community and statewide, it is critical that all residents follow the direction of public health leaders to stay home except when necessary," the statement reads. "We urge all residents to comply with the restrictions in both the County and State orders. The County will continue to implement the County Health Officer's Order.

"Limiting interpersonal interactions is a proven strategy to protect the most vulnerable members of our community and slow the spread of the virus," according to the statement.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.


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16 people like this
Posted by Geri Spieler
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 20, 2020 at 11:54 am

It's good to hear our governor taking decisive action with what we have been doing in Northern California for a week now. Hopefully, it will make a difference.

13 people like this
Posted by He Must Go
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 20, 2020 at 12:01 pm

If you go up and down the peninsula you find one thing common with local municipalities. That is most of the construction activities have shuttered. Except in Palo Alto why are we so special that we get exempted? I can’t figure it out. I listen to all the experts social distancing is required to flatten the curve. Why has the City of Palo Alto allowed this to continue. The leadership is to blame from the Building Official, to the Director of planning, the City Manager, City Council, etc. Your actions of still performing Building Inspections as an example we’re putting city staff in jeopardy by allowing them to go in peoples houses for things like inspecting water heaters, Bathroom remodels etc. I thought we were in place to stop the spread of the virus not move it to even more homes and infect more people. What are you doing. This is a pretty simple thing stop allowing the spread to continue by you reckless actions in allowing this to happen. Take your que from other leadership cities that neighbor you stop allowing construction and inspections during this crisis.

19 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 20, 2020 at 12:33 pm

We elected Governor Newson, and we need to heed his declaration.

This is not a war with horrible bombs. This is not a war without food. This is a war WE ALL TOGETHER can win, if we use our brains and listen to the advice of professionals.

4 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 20, 2020 at 2:47 pm

While I appreciate and agree with the actions being taken by the governor, I don't understand where he is getting his numbers from. What state models is he referring to and who formulated them ? Newsom indicated that approximately 56 % of Californians [could] contract the virus and up to 20,000 would be hospitalized. Based on what ?

When will he report on the number of infected people who have recovered and the rates at which they are doing so ? If he thinks putting people in a panic mode will solve the problem, he's wrong.

Indicators from China, if we are to believe them, report no new cases in the last two days and South Korea, who may be more believable, is reporting a big decline in cases.

[Portion removed.] It's time for everyone to calm down, follow the CDC recommendations and be patient while this thing runs it's course.

11 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 20, 2020 at 3:23 pm

China and the other Asian countries have kicked out US news people. If the established news people are not there then it is an indication that those countries are trying to deflect any reporting on what is going on. Sorry - do not trust their comments since their whole economy is dependent on trade. And that includes food items. They are looking at their whole economy falling as we are. And they now are prohibited from travel to other countries so they are trying to minimize that requirement. They are simply trying to manage "the story" to their benefit.
the skill set is in the narrative - competing narratives in process.

7 people like this
Posted by Misinformation from China
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 20, 2020 at 6:44 pm

The no new cases in China is misinformation by their government. There are actually many cases although things are more under control than originally.

2 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2020 at 8:36 am

Please show is OUR data. Having California just part of the US data isn’t helpful. We need to see the Bay Area’s data; LA’s data, etc. we need graph and table formats if data. EVERY DAY!!! Give us a platform to see the data daily!!!! Please !!!

2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 22, 2020 at 9:36 am

Jennifer - The SJM tells you every day what is going on in the state of CA and has tables of statistics. What is interesting is that the county of Santa Clara is competing with the county of Los Angeles for the most reported cases. If you look at other counties which are less populated they have a very limited amount of reported cases. Not sure why a state-wide closure is required when other counties in the less populated areas show few reported cases.

As a side note my mother grew up on SU campus. Her father died in the 1918 flu epidemic which turned SU into a hospital. The family children were sent up to the Nor-Cal area of Eureka to wait out the siege.

I think now of what my parents went through in their lives - how amazing their stories are now in retrospect. The bay are in WW2 was the Pacific Theatre and the military bases from end to end where busy building planes and ships. Everyone was able to be middle-class due to the great amount of variable labor choices. How different our economy now is.

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