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Gov. Newsom Calls For Home Isolation For California Seniors, Closing Bars And Nightclubs

Updated 3:14 p.m.

At a press conference Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for home isolation for seniors 65 and older, and for all bars, brewpubs and wineries to close in California to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Newsom did not ask for all restaurants to close, as some other states and cities have done, saying there were more nuanced concerns and considerations around those businesses.

Newsom says his administration is focusing on mitigating spread to the state’s most vulnerable populations. He called for home isolation for all seniors 65 and older in the state. He says the state is also working to move unsheltered people off the street and into more sanitary conditions by acquiring hotels and motels and dispersing emergency trailers around the state. 

“We need to meet this moment head-on, and lean in … and own this moment and take actions that we think are commensurate with the need to protect the most vulnerable Californians,” Newsom said.

Newsom says he will not order the closure of schools statewide at this time. He says local school districts have closed schools for an estimated 80 to 85 percent of students around the state.

The announcement is the latest effort from the state to combat the spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday, Newsom discouraged large gatherings of over 250 people and recommended “social distancing” for small gatherings, which requires standing at least six feet apart from others. 

Bar Closures

Newsom did not provide a timeline for how long the bars, wineries, brewpubs and nightclubs will be closed. He also did not issue the order under threat of enforcement from the state, but said he hopes establishments will follow the order on their own accord.

However, he says the state does have the authority to begin enforcing the order if needed.

 Newsom said he issued the guidance because bars are not an essential function. He said restaurants help provide meals to people who otherwise are unable to cook for themselves.   

It remains unclear, however, where the line between bars and restaurants lie. For example, if a bar serves light fare but does not operate a full kitchen. 

The state is encouraging dine-in restaurants to cut their current occupancy levels by half to encourage social distancing.  

Newsom says there may be further actions on this front. The governors of other states, including Ohio and Illinois, have made more sweeping announcements closing bars and restaurants. 

Home Isolation For Seniors, Relocating Homeless Individuals

Newsom says the “most important thing is to protect the most vulnerable,” including seniors, chronically ill and unsheltered populations. 

California has 5.3 million residents 65 and older, according to Newsom, who are particularly susceptible to coronavirus. He has called on those residents to isolate at home until further notice. 

He also called for the tightening of public access to nursing facilities and hospitals, and limiting visitations to end-of-life patients. 

Newsom says his administration is also moving quickly to relocate California’s homeless population off the street. The state currently has an estimated 108,000 unsheltered individuals. 

The state is working on procuring hotels and motels to shelter those individuals. Newsom says the state will distribute an additional 450 emergency trailers around the state to help house those individuals.

Increasing Health Care Capacity

California has so far administered over 8,300 coronavirus tests, Newsom said Sunday. There are currently about 20 labs performing tests, supplemented by a private lab operated by the company Quest. 

Quest is expected to bring two new labs online, including one in Sacramento, with the capacity to process over 5,000 tests a day. The state is also exploring mobile testing options. 

The state is also working on a partnership with Verily, a company owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The partnership aims to develop an online resource to answer questions for people who suspect they have been exposed to coronavirus. Their risk level will then be “scored,” according to Newsom. 

The site is expected to go live in the next 24 to 48 hours in two piloted areas, according to the governor. 

Newsom says California currently has about 74,000 beds at 416 hospitals. About 11,500 of them are ICU beds for adults and children. Facilities also have a surge capacity of nearly 9,000 beds, if needed. 

The state is also looking to acquire decommissioned hospitals to increase surge capacity, according to Newsom.

This is a developing story and will be updated


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