California’s governor announced a statewide stay-at-home order Thursday evening, making it the first U.S. state to go into lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by this novel coronavirus outbreak.
This measure follows similar “shelter in place” mandates adopted by the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles earlier this week, as well as countrywide lockdowns in Spain and Italy. While other states have begun to instate widespread restrictions on public gatherings, school attendance, and nursing home visits, California’s decree is the strictest statewide regulation yet aimed at stemming the outbreak.
Effective Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s roughly 40 million residents to stay in their homes unless they’re performing “necessary activities.” “This is a moment we need to make tough decisions,” Newsom said at a digital news conference per the Washington Post.
The nation’s total number of confirmed cases surpassed 10,000 Thursday, according to the New York Times, roughly double that of figures from earlier this week. At least 194 diagnosed patients have died, with several West Coast states like Washington and California among the hardest hit.
In a letter to President Donald Trump dated Wednesday, Newsom estimated that more than half of California’s population—25.5 million people—will likely contract the novel coronavirus within the next eight weeks based on the rate it’s currently spreading among the state’s communities.
“In the last 24 hours, we had 126 new COVID-19 cases, a 21 percent increase. In some parts of our state, our case rate is doubling every four days,” Newsom wrote.