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Los Angeles, March 20, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued a stay-at-home executive order for the almost 40 million residents of the state, which also requires non-essential businesses to close, a measure aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus.
Thursday night's order comes at a time when the confirmed cases in the most populated state of the US have reached around 1,000 and 19 people have died, reports Efe news.
"It's time for all of us to recognize as individuals and as a community, we need to do more," Newsom said.
The measure requires California residents to stay at home "except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors".
The essential services that will remain open include gas stations, pharmacies, groceries, take out and delivery restaurants and banks, among others, while bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms and convention centres will be closed along with public events and gatherings.
At a press conference on Thursday night in Sacramento, the Governor said he preferred to take drastic steps than expose the state to more serious infections.
The decision was taken after the Governor warned President Donald Trump that half the population of the state were likely to be infected by the virus in the coming months.
"This is a moment we need to make tough decisions. This is a moment where we need some straight talk and we need to tell people the truth," Newsom added.
California officials project that 56 perc ent of the residents (25.5 million) will be infected by COVID-19 over an eight-week period, Newsom wrote in a letter to Trump on Wednesday.
He also asked the US Congress on Thursday for $1 billion in federal funds to support the state's medical response to the novel coronavirus.
The Democrat said financial aid was critical to the state's ability to acquire ventilators and other medical supplies, deploy mobile hospitals, and meet other health care needs of the Californians.
"The economic disruption caused by this public health crisis will have immediate and devastating effects on our entire country, including too many families in California," he warned.
Minutes before Newsom's order was issued, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and county supervisors announced a similar order for the closure of malls and all non-essential businesses.
"We need to be painfully honest. We're about to enter a new way of living in Los Angeles for a period," Garcetti said at a press conference.
Garcetti said his "Safer at Home" emergency order was "not a request. This is an order."
San Francisco and surrounding counties had also previously issued orders to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
California is one of the worst affected states in the US after New York and Washington.
Washington has the largest number of coronavirus deaths in the country, with 74, while New York has 29.
However, New York has the largest number of cases in the country with 4,152 infections, while Washington has 1,376.
According to the latest update by Johns Hopkins University, there are currently more than 13,000 confirmed cases with 176 deaths in the US.