California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a strict “stay at home” order on Thursday, urging the state’s 40 million residents to help flatten the state’s already spiking coronavirus infection curve.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took it to the next level, ominously announcing the same day, “This is not shelter-in-place like a school shooting, this is ‘Stay at home because you’re safer at home.’ This is not a request. This is an order.”
California in crisis
Both announcements came after Newsom told the Trump administration that he expects the state to see coronavirus infections balloon up to 56% of the state’s population — a staggering 25.5 million people.
Much of the projection is due to the state’s skyrocketing homeless population. Though the homeless population was a major problem before the pandemic, it’s proving to be the catalyst for the potential realization of the state’s worst-case scenario.
Newsom revealed that 60,000 of the states 150,000 homeless could contract the disease, and said that the state is dedicating $150 million to shoring up the state’s homeless services.
As of Thursday evening, 950 cases of coronavirus and 18 deaths from the disease were reported in California. Another 11,900 individuals are self-monitoring for the disease. Newsom asked Trump to deploy the USNS Mercy hospital ship to the port of Los Angeles for several months to shore up the state’s already struggling healthcare system.
Stay at home
The order was issued on Thursday and went into effect at midnight. California residents woke up to the strictest coronavirus precautions in the country, in which all residents are ordered to stay home except for “essential activities.”
Governor Newsom’s “stay at home” order dictates “the closure of dine-in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms, public events and gatherings, and convention centers,” according to a Fox News report.
Essential activities still permitted include picking up groceries, going for a walk in one’s neighborhood, going to the doctor, and going to work in “essential” industries.
Newsom addressed concerns about enforcement, admitting “People will ask ‘Well, how will you enforce?’ As I say there is a social contract here, people I think recognize the need to do more and to meet this moment.”
Garcetti attempted to head off concerns about enforcement of the city’s new rules as well, saying that “This is not one where people are going to be marched into jails.” However, Garcetti’s order states that “it is against the law to violate this Order, and you may be punished by a fine or imprisonment for doing so.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) criticized the extreme measures, pointing out that “California’s 12% of the nation’s population. There are essential things that are produced in California … We do think there was an ability to do this without shutting down the entire state. I hope he consulted with a lot of experts before he just made this decision.”