More than half of Californians will become infected with the novel coronavirus by the end of May, Gov. Gavin Newsom projected Thursday in a letter to the president asking for help in combating the outbreak.
Hospitals are becoming strained with the virus' rate of spread doubling every four days in some parts of the nation's most populous state, Newsom told President Donald Trump. So far, 19 people across the state have died from the disease, while another 958 have tested positive.
Hours after sending the letter to the federal government, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that all of California should stay at home as much as possible to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The evening announcement came after a similar directive was issued for Los Angeles County.
"We're not victims of circumstance. We can make decisions to meet moments, and this is a moment we need to make tough decisions," Newsom said. "This is a moment where we need some straight talk, and we need to tell people the truth."
The governor said everyone in the state would have to adjust their daily activities and way of life to help blunt the sharp increase in coronavirus cases the state has seen this week.
In a separate letter to congressional leaders, Newsom sought $1 billion in federal funding, an expansion of unemployment benefits and more funding and more money for other safety net programs like Medicaid, food assistance and childcare.
“The economic disruption caused by this public health crisis will have immediate and devastating effects on our entire country, including too many families in California,” Newsom wrote. “The magnitude of this crisis is extraordinary and federal-state-local government coordination will be more critical than ever before.”
Newsom is also asking Trump to station the USNS Mercy hospital ship at the port of Los Angeles until September to reinforce the state's medical facilities, which he said has been “disproportionately impacted by repatriation efforts over the last few months.”
“This resource will help decompress the health care system to allow the Los Angeles region to ensure that is has the ability to address critical acute care needs, such as heart attacks and strokes or vehicle accidents, in addition to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases,” he wrote.
Newsom added that the L.A. area is about as densely populated as New York City, where state Gov. Andrew Cuomo says another hospital ship — the USNS Comfort — is being sent. According to CNN, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said both the Mercy and Comfort were being prepped for deployment.
In a Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday night, Newsom also said he wants the federal government to send California mobile hospitals to help divert patients from hospitals. Newsom also said he plans to spend $150 million to help protect the states homeless population of more than 150,000 from the virus' spread.