Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento on Sunday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento on Sunday. Image from Facebook Live

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday all Californians 65 and older should remain in isolation at home and called for closing all bars, brewpubs and nightclubs to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“The most important thing is to protect the most vulnerable,” he said, which includes the elderly and those with chronic conditions. He estimated the number of Californians asked to remain at home at 5.3 million.

He also said restaurants should immediately reduce occupancy by 50% to maintain social distance. But he declined to call for closure, saying “we need people to be able to pick up food.”

“There are profoundly significant steps in real time,” he said, that are intended as “a very pragmatic response to meet this moment.”

Speaking in a live-streamed press conference in Sacramento, he said coronavirus cases in California grew by 14% in the past day to 335, with deaths now totaling six.

The governor said over 8,300 tests have been conducted, and “we are increasing our capacity on an hourly basis” at 19 laboratories across the state as well as commercial providers.

He said the state was working with Google subsidiary Verily to open an online portal and testing hubs in two counties in Northern California within 24 to 48 hours.

Newsom said the state’s hospital system currently has 74,000 beds and the capacity to surge almost 9,000 more. The state has over 7,500 respirators on hand and has identified over 1,000 more that can be made available. He said the state is in talks to quickly open additional hospital facilities.

The Governor said closing bars, brewpubs and nightclubs is necessary because “we need to anticipate spread,” adding that he wasn’t concerned about enforcement because Californias are complying with other directives.

“We have absolute expectation this will be socialized in real time,” he said. “We have the capacity to enforce if necessary.”

Asked about how the coronavirus pandemic would impact California’s economy and the state budget, he said the state has significant reserves compared to the 2008 recession.

“We’re in a completely different position. We’re in a much better place,” he said.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.