Friday, March 20, 2020 - 05:45

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.

Newsom called the order essential in light of modeling by experts that showed roughly 56 percent of the state’s residents, or 25 million people, would contract the respiratory illness in the next eight weeks. Such numbers would require nearly 20,000 more hospital beds than the state could provide.

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