State Anti-Coronavirus Measures Could Last 12 Weeks: Newsom

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March 23, 2020 - 4:47 pm
A sign explaining the closure of the Huntington Beach Pier is seen on March 24, 2020 in Huntington Beach.

Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Residents are just days into the shelter-in-place order that Gov. Gavin Newsom issued for the entire state, and he said Monday it could last for as many as 12 weeks

When Newsom made the announcement last week, he did not include a potential end date for the order that banned a wide range of so-called non-essential activities. 

Persuading the residents of the country's most populous state to avoid social interactions for three months in an attempt to minimize the number of coronavirus cases is certain to be a major challenge. 

Over the weekend, the first since nearly 40 million people were told to stay at home, there were crowds in public parks and beaches. Such areas were officially open, but authorities want civilians to limit their exposure to others who may be infected with the virus.

Faced with such a lack of awareness about social distancing or even disregard for the guidelines, Newsom said he's also ordering the closure of parking lots at state parks. That will make it tougher for people to gather without resorting to a full scale lockdown of open spaces. 

"Know that one cannot condemn that, but one can criticize it," Newsom said. "We need to practice common sense and socially distance."

Speaking from Sacramento, Newsom also said there is a huge shortage of hospital beds in California. The state will need 50,000 additional beds to handle the influx of patients expected to be diagnosed with coronavirus, he said. 

That would represent a huge expansion of medical facilities in the state, which has fewer than 75,000 beds in hospitals now, Newsom said.