Update (2215ET): During a Thursday evening announcement that California is now under a 'stay at home order,' Newsom clarified that the 22.5 million infected figure is a worst case scenario in which nothing is done (in a letter to Trump asking to borrow a Navy medical ship).
The next day he announces a major action to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
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California Governor Gavin Newsom says that an estimated 56% of the state's population - some 25.5 million people - will be infected with coronavirus within the next eight weeks.
Newsom made the sobering claim in a Wednesday letter to President Trump asking for the US Navy's Mercy Hospital Ship to be stationed at the Port of Los Angeles until September in order to provide backup to the region's healthcare system.
"The acquisition of the Mercy here off the coast of the state of California would provide additional 1,000 bed capacity, provides support for pharmacists and other diagnostic equipment," said Newsom, adding "This resource will help decompress the health care delivery system to allow the Los Angeles region to ensure that it has the ability to address critical acute care needs, such as heart attacks and strokes or vehicle accidents, in addition to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases."
"We have community acquired transmission in 23 counties with an increase of 44 community acquired infections in 24 hours. We project that roughly 56 percent of our population - 25.5 million people - will be infected with the virus over an eight week period," the letter continues.
A spokesperson for the governor said the projection shows why it's so critical that Californians take action to slow the spread of the disease - and those mitigation efforts aren't taken into account in those numbers. The spokesperson added that the state is deploying every resource at its disposal to meet this challenge and is continuing to ask for the federal government's assistance in this fight. -ABC 7
Newsom is working closely with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to try and protect the state's enormous homeless population from the disease - particularly those with pre-existing conditions. The city is also working with the American Red Cross to open 6,000 beds at 52 recreation centers.
California will also supply local governments with $150 million.
"If we take these emergency shelter beds and add in our bridge shelter beds, this means we can bring 7,000 unhoused Angelenos off the streets and into emergency housing - the most in recent memory, maybe ever in the city's history," Garcetti said.
Ten years ago, then-Los Angeles Police Department Chief Bill Bratton "said what would it take to clean up skid row and he actually said a pandemic," said Any Bales, CEO of the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles. "It's unfortunate that that's what it's taken, but man am I glad to see so many people making so places for people to go."
Bales with skid row's Union Rescue Mission praised all the resources that are coming together to protect the homeless population against COVID-19. Three hundred hand-washing stations and 120 mobile bathrooms have already been set up at encampments.
"I'm hoping we don't return to putting people on the streets," said Bales. "That this all teaches us that we all live a better life housed than unhoused together when we immediately help people get off the streets and stay off the streets." -ABC 7
Newsom said that the state's typical 2,000 unemployment insurance claims had skyrocketed to 80,000 over the last week.