LOS ANGELES : California’s governor on Thursday issued an unprecedented statewide “stay at home order” directing the state’s 40 million residents to hunker down in their homes for the foreseeable future in the face of the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s directive, effective immediately, marks the largest and most sweeping government clampdown yet in the worsening public health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, which he predicted could infect more than half the state within eight weeks.
“We are confident the people of California will abide by it, they will meet this moment,” Newsom, a Democrat in his first term as governor of the nation’s most populous state, told a late-afternoon news briefing from the state capital in Sacramento.
“They’ll step up as they have over the last number of weeks to protect themselves, to protect their families and to protect the broader community in this great state and the world we reside in,” he said.
Already more than 1,000 Californians have been confirmed as infected and 18 have died, the third largest death toll in the United States behind only Washington state and New York.
Newsom said exceptions to the stay-at-home rule would be granted for residents to make trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors and laundromats, and workers in “critical infrastructure sectors.”
The governor did not give an end date for the order but suggested it would last for at least eight weeks.