Newsom: Measures could last 2 or 3 months
At the same time, Gov. Newsom warned that the state needs to increase by two-thirds its capacity of hospital beds.
Tough social distancing measures to stamp out the coronavirus’ spread may need to last two or three months in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested on Monday, in a drastic contrast with President Trump, who just minutes earlier had predicted the U.S. economy could reopen for business in weeks, not months.
At the same time, Newsom warned that the state needs to increase by twothirds its capacity of hospital beds in the face of the pandemic, increasing the total beds available by 50,000 to account for a potential surge in infected cases.
The divergent messages from Washington and Sacramento came as California breached 2,000 coronavirus cases and the U.S. recorded more than 100 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time so far.
And as the Bay Area marked one week under shelter-in-place orders Monday,
officials and residents braced for changes to come — from efforts to transform a South Bay convention center into a makeshift hospital to more government workers testing positive for the virus.
“If you want to bend the curve, we have got to bend to a deeper understanding and meet this moment head on,” Newsom said at a press conference. “We have to act differently.”
As of Monday evening, California had reached 2,162 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 39 deaths related to the disease, according to the total cumulative cases as reported by the counties.
Santa Clara County’s total of confirmed cases rose to 321 on Monday, while three new deaths lifted the total to 13. San Mateo reported 143 cases, San Francisco 131, Alameda 122, Contra Costa 71 and Marin 38. Alameda announced its first death from the disease Monday, lifting the total fatalities in the Bay Area to 14.
As those numbers continued to rise, Newsom announced the state had increased its projection about how many hospital beds would be needed to account for the crisis to 50,000 new beds — a staggering number, considering the state’s 416 hospitals currently have a capacity of about 78,000.
About 30,000 of that capacity can come from existing hospitals, by converting buildings on their campuses or parking lots to hospital tents, or by squeezing more beds into current facilities, Newsom said. The additional 20,000 beds needed to meet the gap will have to come from temporary sites and hotels, in addition to a 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship that is headed to Los Angeles, Newsom said.
Officials are also working to gather 1 billion medical gloves, 500 million N95 masks, and 200 million face shields, the equipment first responders need to protect themselves from the virus. Newsom said California and other states had been unnecessarily competing over available equipment, leading to price jumps.
“People are tripping over themselves to make deals that are ultimately raise the cost of these supplies,” he said.
The governor thanked the private sector for chipping in, saying that Tesla founder Elon Musk had delivered on his promise to send 1,000 ventilators to Los Angeles and that 25 providers had told the state they wanted to help 3D print masks and other equipment.
Newsom spoke just after Trump’s daily press conference, in which the president said he worried that “the cure could be worse than the problem” — suggesting that economic devastation caused by policies forcing Americans to stay home could end up hurting the country more than the virus itself. He said he and federal officials were still deciding whether or not to continue urging people to socially distance themselves beyond the next week, adding that “I’m not looking at months” to keep those practices in place.
Newsom, however, pointed to China and South Korea’s example fighting the disease to suggest that “we are looking the next eight weeks, on our curve, maybe the next eight to 12 weeks, to address this surge.” He didn’t specify whether Californians could be forced to stay home for that entire period.
Many more states have followed in California’s footsteps issuing stay-home orders, and almost 4 in 10 Americans were being told not to leave their homes except for essential reasons by Monday evening.
The state is already seeing economic fallout from the pandemic: Over the last week, about 106,000 people a day have submitted unemployment insurance claims, Newsom said, a stunning increase from the typical average of 2,500 daily claims before the crisis.