Coronavirus: Californians ordered to 'stay home' as US death toll hits 200
California Governor Gavin Newsom has told Californians they should only leave their homes when necessary during the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has so far claimed 205 lives in the US.
Around 40 million residents in California -- the most populous US state and the country's largest state economy -- have been told to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The move comes as the death toll in the US hit 200.
Governor Gavin Newsom told Californians they should only leave their homes when necessary during the pandemic. He earlier estimated more than half of the 40 million people in his state would contract Covid-19 in just the next two months, requiring nearly 20,000 more hospital beds than the state could currently provide.
Newsom had said that Los Angeles, as the nation's second-largest city, would likely be "disproportionately impacted" by the pandemic in the coming weeks.
The coronavirus has killed 205 people in the US and infected more than 14,000.
Globally, nearly 250,000 patients have tested positive for the respiratory illness and more than 10,000 have died.
As authorities ramped up measures to keep the virus from spreading, Washington could announce restrictions on travel across the US-Mexico border as soon as Friday, limiting crossings to essential travel, two officials briefed on the matter said. That would follow a similar measure on Wednesday closing the border with Canada.
The fast-spreading respiratory illness has shattered most patterns of American life: shuttering schools and businesses, prompting millions to work from home, forcing many out of jobs and sharply curtailing travel.
The US State Department told citizens that if they travel internationally, "your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe."
With the economy swooning, Senate Republicans unveiled a $1 trillion economic stimulus plan to provide funds directly to businesses and the American public. President Donald Trump has been eagerly calling for that package.
It would be Congress' third emergency coronavirus bill following a $105 billion-plus plan covering free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave and expanded safety-net spending, and an $8.3 billion measure to combat the spread of the highly contagious pathogen and develop vaccines.
The plunging stock market and surging US death toll has caused Trump to sharply change his tone on the disease this week, demanding urgent action after spending weeks downplaying the risks.
Over 13,000 people across the United States have been diagnosed with the illness called COVID-19 and 200 have died, with the largest numbers so far in Washington state and New York.
Minutes before Newsom announced his statewide order, Los Angeles County officials ordered the closure of all shopping centres and non-essential businesses, and told its 10 million residents to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
The virus has taken the greatest toll in Washington state, which reported eight more deaths on Thursday, bringing the death toll there to 74.
With the United States slow to roll out mass testing for the virus that has infected more than 244,000 people worldwide, officials fear the number of known cases of the respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia lags far behind reality.
New York State tested 8,000 patients overnight. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered three-quarters of state employees to work from home, but has resisted calls for the kind of "stay at home" order that California has now mandated.
"We don't have the results of the 8,000 tests, but when you do 8,000 tests, the numbers are going to go up exponentially," Cuomo told CNN.
There are no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19, but several options are being tested. New York City, where many young people last weekend packed local bars and restaurants, has been eerily deserted after nightfall.
The epidemic, which has killed over 10,000 globally so far, has drawn comparisons with traumatic periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged by the most since 2012 to a 2-1/2-year high last week, as companies in the services sector laid off workers with businesses shutting down due to the pandemic.