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California Gov. Warns 60,000 Homeless Could Contract Coronavirus

California Gov. Warns 60,000 Homeless Could Contract Coronavirus
Nurses wearing protective gear wait for patients at a drive-through testing site for COVID-19 coronavirus in a parking lot at the University of Washington’s Northwest Outpatient Medical Center in Seattle, Wash., March 17, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

California governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said up to 60,000 homeless residents of the state could contract the Wuhan coronavirus, potentially overwhelming healthcare providers.

“Over the next eight-week period, we have modeled that of the 108,000 unsheltered Californians that are out on the streets, if you had an attack rate of about 56%, you’re looking at 60-plus thousand individuals that may have COVID-19,” Newsom said in an address live-streamed on Facebook.

“That creates a deep point of anxiety for the existing population but moreover for our healthcare delivery system, our capacity to move people in and out of the shelters safely without contacting other people and putting them at risk as well,” Newsom continued.

California’s homeless population of 108,000 is the highest in the U.S., with over 60,000 in Los Angeles County alone. The coronavirus outbreak puts that population at risk because of the highly contagious nature of the illness.

Newsom said he had issued an executive order to direct $100 million toward certain cities for aid in fighting coronavirus among the homeless, and another executive order setting aside $50 million to convert hotels into shelters for homeless coronavirus patients.

California has confirmed 875 cases of coronavirus, with 17 deaths, as of Thursday morning, according to the New York Times. Most cases in the state are centered around the San Francisco Bay area, where six counties have issued a “shelter in place” order until at least April 7.

Governor Newsom, a Democrat who has repeatedly criticized and drawn the ire of President Trump, has praised the administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“His administration…has been consistent with the expectation that we repatriate [the] passengers” on the Grand Princess cruise ship that saw a number of infections and eventually docked in Oakland, Newsom said on March 10. “And we do it in a way that does justice to the spirit that defines the best of our country and the state of California.”

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

© 2020 National Review

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