Newsom requests federal aid, saying more than half of Californians projected to get virus

California
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Governor Gavin Newsom is urging President Donald Trump to immediately deploy a floating hospital to California to help the state’s potential rush of coronavirus cases.

In his letter sent Thursday to the White House, Newsom warned the state projects 56% of California’s population will be infected with the virus within a two month period — that’s 25.5 million people. He also said infection rates are doubling every four days in some parts of the state.

Newsom’s spokesman later confirmed that number does not take into account aggressive mitigation efforts underway across the state,

The governor formally requested to have the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship docked in Los Angeles to ease overcapacity of hospitals, providing 1,000 extra beds. Newsom explained the need in a recent Facebook Live.

“Mercy cannot come up within a day or two, we’re told at least five days to get the Mercy operationalized and then you have to move that ship. So one should not over-promise, either on the East Coast or the West Coast, how quickly you can get those hospitals up,” he said.

The governor this week also said he’s calling on the federal government to help provide two mobile hospitals to provide 496 extra beds each.

California has about 90,000 beds in hospitals across the state but could need up to 20,000 more, depending on the size of the surge of patients.

The governor is requesting to have Mercy docked until Sept. 1.

In a separate letter, Newsom on Thursday asked U.S. House and Senate leaders for $1 billion to support surge planning for state and local health systems. He said that money would be needed to do things like set up state-run and mobile hospitals, housing options to help people socially distance and testing and treatment for people without health insurance.

He also asked for assistance so the state can extend unemployment benefits beyond the usual 26-week limit, expand food assistance programs, resources for the homeless and tribal communities and boost childcare programs. He further asked for assistance for schools, aid to local and state budgets and transportation relief.

“While California has prudently built a sizable Rainy Day Fund over the past ten years, the economic effects of this emergency are certain to mean that the state and its 58 counties will struggle to maintain essential programs and services,” he wrote.

It warned many California households “may fall into poverty” without a “substantial economic intervention.”

The governor says he will also on Friday announce two large hospitals — one in Northern California, the other in Southern California.

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