By Shawn Raymundo Collin Breaux
The ongoing battle to curtail the spread of COVID-19 escalated Thursday, March 19, as Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s roughly 40 million residents to stay home and limit trips for essential services such as grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, banks, and laundromats.
Newsom’s decision to step up measures to combat the rising coronavirus pandemic followed his prediction Thursday that more than 50% of the state’s population could become infected by the virus over the next two months.
The rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California hit 1,006 by Thursday, according to the latest report from the California Department of Public Health. The death toll in the state reached 19, which included one non-California resident.
As of Thursday, there have been a total of 53 confirmed cases in Orange County with no reported deaths, according to the OC Health Care Agency.
“This Order is being issued to protect the public health of Californians,” Newsom’s latest executive order states. “The California Department of Public Health looks to establish consistency across the state in order to ensure that we mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Our goal is simple, we want to bend the curve, and disrupt the spread of the virus.”
Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order went into effect Thursday night and will remain in place until further notice.
“We are confident the people of California will abide by it,” Newsom said during a press conference Thursday.
The executive order allows the state’s residents to leave their homes to visit food banks, farmers markets and convenience stores, while restaurants offering take-out and delivery services could remain open, according to the state government’s website.
The order also allows people to continue accessing health care and pharmacies while exempting those working in the 16 federal critical infrastructure sectors, which include communications, emergency services, food and agriculture, healthcare and public health, transportation systems, and water and wastewater, to name a few.
“The supply chain must continue, and Californians must have access to such necessities as food, prescriptions, and health care,” the executive order stated. “When people need to leave their homes or places of residence, whether to obtain or perform the functions above, or to otherwise facilitate authorized necessary activities, they should at all times practice social distancing.”
Newsom also directed the state’s healthcare delivery system to prioritize services for “those who are the sickest,” while prioritizing resources, “including personal protective equipment, for the providers providing direct care to them.”