California's governor on Thursday issued a statewide "stay at home order" directing residents to leave their homes only when necessary during the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Gavin Newsom said that modeling has shown that 56 percent of California residents were expected to contract COVID-19 over the next eight weeks, requiring nearly 20,000 more hospital beds than the state could currently provide.
Newsom earlier on Thursday asked President Donald Trump to send a U.S. Navy hospital ship to the port of Los Angeles "immediately" as the state braces for the expected surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
He said Los Angeles, as the nation's second-largest city, would likely be "disproportionately impacted" by the pandemic in the coming weeks.
In a separate letter sent to US congressional leaders, the governor asked for additional federal funding for unemployment insurance and social safety net programs and aid to small businesses, schools and universities.
Elsewhere in the US
The United States warned Americans on Thursday to return home or stay abroad indefinitely, while Senate Republicans unveiled a $US1 trillion economic stimulus plan to provide funds directly to businesses and the American public, as the number of coronavirus death in the country hit 200.
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."
At the same time, the Trump administration said it was not ruling out a temporary halt to all U.S. passenger air travel.
"Everything is on the table," Deborah Birx, White House coordinator for the coronavirus task force, told Fox News Channel.
- If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)
The US Senate unveiled details of a $US1 trillion-plus coronavirus bill on Thursday intended to help the US economy weather the impacts of the growing outbreak.
President Donald Trump has been eagerly calling for that package.
It would be Congress' third emergency coronavirus bill following a $US105 billion-plus plan covering free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave and expanded safety-net spending, and an $US8.3 billion measure to combat the spread of the highly contagious pathogen and develop vaccines.
Trump, speaking with several state governors by videoconference from the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the government would help out the US auto industry "a little bit."
It might also consider a relief package for the hospitality industry, he said.
The plunging stock market and surging U.S. death toll has caused Trump to sharply change his tone on the disease this week, demanding urgent action after spending weeks downplaying the risks.
About 12,260 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.
'We cannot wait'
Los Angeles on Thursday ordered the closure of all shopping centers and non-essential businesses in the city and county, and told its 10 million residents to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
"We cannot wait. We have to act now," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "This is not a shelter-in-place order, this is a stay-at-home order."
Two Los Angeles Lakers players have the coronavirus, the NBA franchise said on Thursday, after four players from the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the disease a day earlier.
Washington state on Thursday reported eight more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the death toll there to 74, the most of any US state.
New York State tested 8000 patients overnight and ordered three-quarters of state employees to work from home, while officials in New York and neighboring New Jersey said they expected the number of cases in those states to spiral into the thousands.
"We don't have the results of the 8,000 tests, but when you do 8000 tests, the numbers are going to go up exponentially," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN.
There are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, but several options are being tested.
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