In a Thursday letter to President Donald Trump, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he expected roughly 56 percent of the state’s population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the coronavirus over an eight-week period.
“As you know, California has been disproportionately impacted by repatriation efforts over the last few months. Our state and health care delivery systems are significantly impacted by the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases,” Newsom wrote. “Moreover, we have community acquired transmission in 23 counties with an increase of 44 community acquired infections 24 hours. We project that roughly 56 percent of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period.”
Newsom has requested that Trump deploy the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to Los Angeles through Sept. 1 to “help decompress the health care delivery system” in the LA region so that “it has the ability to address critical acute care needs, such as heart attacks and strokes or vehicle accidents, in addition to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.”
The USNS Mercy is a hospital ship that was originally built during the Cold War to provide medical services during wartime. The USNS Mercy is stationed in San Diego and will be sent to a city on the West Coast, while the USNS Comfort — another hospital ship — has been sent to New York City, Trump announced in a Wednesday press conference.
In another letter sent on Thursday, Newsom also requested more than $1 billion in federal aid from Congress to support California’s medical response to the pandemic, as well as an expansion of unemployment insurance and financial assistance for Medicaid, housing and homelessness programs, state-subsidized early learning and childcare programs, and other safety net programs. The governor also requested assistance for small businesses economically impacted by the pandemic through the creation of a new U.S. Treasury authority to provide guaranteed loans from U.S. banks for small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as cash and rental assistance.
“The outbreak of a novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is an evolving, unprecedented global crisis of a scale that we have never seen before. 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,” Newsom wrote to Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and Chuck Schumer. “The magnitude of this crisis is extraordinary and federal-state-local government coordination will be more critical than ever before.”
Nineteen people in California have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, while at least 958 have tested positive for the virus, according to the Los Angeles Times.