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Looking east, California can envision its coronavirus future in the overflowing hospital wards of New York City. Looking west, it can draw hope from the disease’s swift decline in Asian nations that quickly imposed strict physical-isolation measures on infected people.

Two months after its first confirmed case of the deadly respiratory illness in California, the state is preparing to confront what public health authorities agree will be the cruelest month — an April that portends a peak in sickness and death.

How cruel remains to be seen. Officials hope that sharp limitations on work and public activity, imposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 19, and subsequently ratcheted up in some cities and counties, will hobble the COVID-19‘s racehorse spread.

The enormous social reengineering of recent days has closed businesses and emptied public places. But its ultimate effectiveness remains one of multiple unknowns — dependent on innumerable actions by millions of Californians.

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