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California goes on lockdown: Friday’s coronavirus news

And more things to know.

Healthcare workers await patients a drive through coronavirus screening.
Healthcare workers await patients a drive through coronavirus screening in Yorba Linda, California, on March 19, 2020.
Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group via Getty Images
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

California is now on lockdown after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s residents to stay home, except for essential activities. They are the most sweeping measures in the United States so far, as coronavirus cases in the United States move past 14,000.

These interventions are a recognition that the crisis in the United States is still growing. Yet a new poll finds that a majority of Americans — 55 percent — approve of Trump’s handling of the crisis.

Elsewhere, Italy now has reached a grim marker: The most coronavirus deaths outside of China, with more than 3,400, as the crisis rages in Europe. For its part, China says it went for the second day in a row without recording any new local transmissions of the coronavirus.

Here’s what to know today.

California on lockdown

On Thursday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an order for all of the state’s 40 million residents to stay home. The order expands what was already happening in places like the Bay Area, and Los Angeles had adopted similar stay-at-home rules just before Newsom made his announcement.

Under the order, residents are asked to stay inside except for essential work or travel, which includes going to the grocery store, pharmacy, or bank. People can also still go to restaurants to pick up food and can take walks outside — as long as they practice responsible social distancing.

“We’re going to keep the grocery stores open,” Newsom said Thursday. “We’re going to make sure that you’re getting critical medical supplies. You can still take your kids outside, practicing common sense and social distancing. You can still walk your dog, you can still pick up food at one of our distribution centers, at a restaurant, at a drive-thru — all those things we will still be able to do.”

Newsom said the order would be in place indefinitely, as California’s health care system braces for an influx of patients. In a letter to President Donald Trump, the governor said California could see about 56 percent of its population diagnosed with Covid-19, the formal name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the next eight weeks — in other words, more than 25 million people. These latest stay-at-home rules are intended to prevent that dire scenario from happening.

California introduced the most drastic measure of any state first, but that’s changing. On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he was issuing an executive order that says only essential businesses can function, with “non-essential” workers asked to stay at home. Pharmacies, grocery stores, and more would not close, and he asked people to stay indoors to whatever extent possible. The order will go into effect Sunday evening.

“When I talk about the most drastic I can take, this is the most drastic action we can take,” he said.

Right now, New York currently accounts for almost 40 percent of the entire country’s coronavirus cases — with the city accounting for 4,000 cases alone.

Italy’s bleak milestone

Italy remains shutdown, but the number of coronavirus cases jumps day after day.

On Thursday, the country reached a terrifying marker: more than 3,400 dead. In just 24 hours, the death toll jumped more than 420. The Western European country has now surpassed China for the most coronavirus deaths. Italy’s countrywide quarantine will continue until April 3, but the hospitals remain overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the crisis.

Other European countries are echoing Italy’s struggles. Spain has 1,000 deaths as of March 20. As the Washington Post reports, that puts Spain on par with Iran, though there are questions about the accuracy of Iran’s reporting.

Americans give Trump okay ratings on coronavirus job

Trump’s tone when discussing the coronavirus crisis has recently changed (well, mostly), with the president now issuing guidelines to Americans to avoid crowds and stay home, declaring a national emergency and recasting this health crisis as a “war.” This is an about-face from his downplaying of the virus just weeks earlier.

Even so, America lags greatly behind in testing, which means officials are still struggling to grasp exactly where the coronavirus is spreading. It also adds uncertainty to the depths of the economic fallout as the country shuts down and everyone stays home. Beyond that, Trump’s reversal — from “hoax” to battle — may not have gotten through to all Americans.

Yet, in a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, 55 percent of Americans said they approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis while 43 percent disapprove. The poll, released Friday, flips the numbers from last week when just 43 percent approved and 54 percent disapproved of Trump’s management. The poll was conducted from March 18-19, out of about 500 people, with a margin of error of about 5 percentage points.

Still, the administration’s ramping up this week seems to have made a difference. The crisis is far from over — as is the economic pain. But, at least according to one poll, Trump is weathering the fallout so far.

And one piece of good news

Pluto, the dog, has some great tips for how to survive and have fun at home during the crisis.

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