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California governor issues statewide order for people to stay home amid virus outbreak

Virus Outbreak California
AP via CNN
A man crosses a nearly empty street in San Francisco.

SACRAMENTO, California — All 40 million residents in the state of California have been ordered to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the statewide order Thursday night, telling residents in the most populous state to stay home.

It is the most restrictive order by a governor so far during the novel coronavirus pandemic and comes as the number of cases in California and the U.S. skyrocket.

The order takes effect Thursday at midnight and the governor said it is open-ended. "This is a dynamic situation," Newsom added.

While it applies to most of the state's 40 million residents, there are exceptions for workers in "16 critical infrastructure sections."

"Those that work in critical sectors should go to work. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and more will stay open," Newsom explained. "We need to meet this moment and flatten the curve together."

Non-essential services such as dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms and convention centers will shut down.

California is one of the worst states affected in the U.S. after Washington and New York. There are now 910 coronavirus cases in California, including 19 deaths.

The order came just hours after Newsom sent a letter to the president, projecting that roughly 25.5 million Californians -- about 56% of the state's population -- could become infected with the virus over the next eight weeks.

When asked by reporters about enforcement of his order, Newsom said police will not arrest violators,

"I don't believe the people of California need to be told through law enforcement that it's appropriate just to home isolate, protect themselves," he replied.

California is the most populous U.S. state and is the country's largest state economy.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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