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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced the launch of a new hotline aimed at keeping California seniors connected as residents throughout the state are ordered to stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The phone number, 1-833-544-2374, will provide help and critical services for older Californians, the governor said during his daily briefing on the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Newsom announced the hotline as part of a new initiative aimed to assist the approximately 5.3 million residents in the state who are 65 years and older.

California is working to “significantly increase our connectivity to our seniors, to check in — not just for wellness checks related to food and medicine — but the deep anxiety people are feeling being isolated at home, and the loneliness people are feeling at home, not connected to the outside world,” he said.

While the state has been working to shore up critical assistance for the vulnerable population, Newsom acknowledged that there was still room to “to do more and do better to protect our seniors.” 

In addition to the hotline, the governor has mobilized the 211 system to connect residents with real services in real time.

So if a loved one, neighbor or stranger has a need for specific services — something beyond a check-in or nice words — they should contact 211, Newsom said.

The toll-free number is always staffed with trained call specialists who can determine and provide for unmet needs.

Newsom’s announcement comes as the state’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 6,932 on Tuesday, an increase of 17% from the previous day. Fifteen more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 150.

In the past five days, the number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus has doubled to 1,617, while the number of ICU patients has tripled, according to the governor.

COVID-19 is expected to create peak demand on the Golden State’s health care resources on April 26, when 1,564 intensive care beds will be needed, according to a forecast from researchers at the University of Washington’s medical school.

That’s around the same time the forecast projected 100 deaths per day in California.

But the state’s own “very dynamic” modeling indicates the surge will happen in the second half of May, Newsom said.

To prepare, California has been working to increase hospital bed capacity by 50,000 and obtain an additional 5,000 ventilators.

To date, the state has distributed more than 32 million N95 masks and placed orders for an additional 100 million from around the globe, according to the governor.

As to whether the general public should also be wearing protective face coverings, Newsom stated Tuesday that he expected the state to come up with recommendations and guidelines on masks soon, possibly within the next 24 hours. Those would not replace the state’s physical distancing rules, which remain in effect, he stressed.

The state has also moved to bolster its health care work force with retired medical professionals as well as students who are near graduation, introducing the California Health Corps on Monday.

About 25,000 licensed individuals signed up within the 24 hours of the website being announced, Newsom said.