Coronavirus Updates: 40 Million Californians Ordered to Stay Home

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Residents of the most populous state have effectively been told to shelter in place. The virus has killed more people in Italy than in China, and the race for a vaccine pits nationalism against the global good.

RIGHT NOW Gov. Gavin Newsom of California also banned social gatherings and ordered nonessential businesses closed.

California’s governor orders residents to “stay at home.”
America’s most populous state is ordering its residents to stay at home.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Thursday ordered Californians — all 40 million of them — to stay at home as much as possible in the coming weeks as the state confronts the escalating coronavirus outbreak. The order represents the most drastic measure any governor has taken to control the virus, and a decision that Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, which has far more cases than in California, has resisted taking.

Mr. Newsom made the announcement from the state’s emergency operations center in Sacramento, normally a place where emergency workers coordinate responses to wildfires and earthquake, and spoke in stark terms of the risk the virus poses to the population.

Citing a model that state planners have been using, suggesting that 56 percent of Californians, or more than 25 million people, could be infected over eight weeks, Mr. Newsom said, “I think it’s time I tell you what I tell my family.”

Healthcare workers, essential municipal workers such as bus drivers and others will still be working. But most offices and retail outlets will need to close, if they haven’t already.

The new rules were the most drastic ones so far in the country for the population size covered, and follow similar crackdowns in Europe, most notably in Italy, where the death toll from the relentless virus on Thursday surpassed that of China.

Just before Mr. Newsom spoke, officials in Los Angeles County held a news conference to announce their own stay at home order, which they are calling, “safer at home.”

“This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time,” he said. “We will look back at these decisions as pivotal.”

Earlier in the week several counties in the Bay Area, plus Sacramento, issued orders that residents essentially shelter in place, although there are several exceptions — which also apply to the state order — such as going to buy groceries or picking up prescriptions.

A global arms race for a coronavirus vaccine is underway.

In the three months since the virus began its deadly spread, China, Europe and the United States have all set off at a sprint to become the first to produce a vaccine. But while there is cooperation on many levels — including among companies that are ordinarily fierce competitors — hanging over the effort is the shadow of a nationalistic opportunity for the winner to potentially gain the upper hand in dealing with the economic and geostrategic fallout from the crisis.

What began as a question of who would get the scientific accolades, the patents and ultimately the revenues from a successful vaccine is suddenly a broader issue of urgent national security. And behind the scramble is a harsh reality: Any new vaccine that proves potent against the coronavirus — clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe already — is sure to be in short supply as governments try to ensure that their own people are the first in line.

In China, 1,000 scientists are at work on a vaccine, and the issue has already been militarized: Researchers affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences have developed what is considered the nation’s front-runner candidate for success and is recruiting volunteers for clinical trials.

President Trump has talked with pharmaceutical executives about making sure a vaccine is produced on American soil, to assure the United States controls its supplies. German government officials said they believed he tried to lure a German company, CureVac, to do its research and production, if it comes to that, in the United States.

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