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California to spend $150 million to protect homeless from virus | Local coronavirus updates

Homeless are considered disproportionately at risk from the virus because many have underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For ABC10's latest blog with the most up-to-date information, click here

Here are the latest updates on coronavirus and how local governments are responding to the illness, with a focus on California for Wednesday, March 18.

What's Closed: Schools | Events

CALIFORNIA STATUS UPDATE

The California Department of Public Health reports:

  • Confirmed cases: 598 (As of 10:30 a.m. March 18, not including Grand Princess passengers). 
  • 13 deaths (including one non-California resident)
  • Approximately 11,900+ people "self-monitoring" after returning from foreign travel. 
  • 22 state labs processing tests for COVID-19 (21 labs have test kits)

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS 

  • As worries about the spread of the coronavirus confine millions of Californians to their homes, concern is growing about those who have no homes in which to shelter. California has more than 150,000 homeless people, the most in the nation, and that population is considered disproportionately at risk from the COVID-19 virus because of their lifestyle and because many have underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said 60,000 homeless people could become infected. The governor announced he'll spend $150 million on efforts to prevent the virus from sweeping through that population.
  • The Westfield Galleria at Roseville is closing most of its stores temporarily as officials there do what they can to help stop the spread of coronavirus in the community. It's still unclear which stores are closing, and how long the mall will be closed.
  • New senior shopping hour at Walmart: Walmart is letting people 60 and older shop an hour before their stores open every Tuesday, starting on March 24. All stores will also adjust their operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Stores will also be placing limits on certain items like paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food.
  • Solano County issues Shelter in place order: Solano County officials have given a Shelter in Place order to help curb community spread from the coronavirus. The order is in effect until 11:59 on April 7, or until it is extended or ended earlier by officials.
  • $150 million going toward protecting homeless from coronavirus: Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized $50 million to buy 1,309 trailers and lease rooms in hotels, motels, and facilities to give homeless persons a place to isolate from the virus. $100 million was authorized to go to local governments for shelter support and emergency housing to address the coronavirus in their homeless populations.
  • 2 deaths in San Joaquin County: San Joaquin County Public Health Services reported its first two deaths in the county from the coronavirus. They were only identified as county residents and as being among the high risk populations, elderly with underlying medical conditions. Authorities say one case was travel related and the other was from community transmission. There are 14 positive cases of the virus in San Joaquin County. Officials expect the number of cases to rise as local testing expands.
  • Gov. Newsom waiving standardized testing for students: Pending federal approval, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that would waive statewide testing for 6 million K-12 students. “Our districts need some relief and this decision is in the best interest of our students and our state,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
  • Elk Grove considering moratorium on evictions: City Council is considering an ordinance that would place a temporary moratorium on evictions. It would ban any eviction proceeding against another person in Elk Grove related to a decrease in income or out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by the coronavirus. It would also limit the City from discontinuing service or charging late fees for solid waste or drainage service in the city. The ordinance would remain in effect till May 31 unless it's ended earlier or extended by council.
  • Napa County issues Shelter at Home order: The Napa County Public Health Officer issued a Shelter at Home Order that will be effective from March 20 to 11:59 p.m. on April 7.
  • Sacramento businesses could land up to $25,000 in zero-interest loans:  At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the City of Sacramento is taking applications for their $1 million economic relief fund.The fund could mean up to $25,000 in zero-interest loans for single business. Loans will be available with payments starting 90 days after the emergency declaration ends.
  • Senior Helpline goes live in Vacaville: The Vacaville helpline is meant to help seniors currently in a self-quarantine due to the coronavirus. Services offered include home check-ups, pick-up and drop-off of essential supplies, and transportation for essential services, and daily or weekly phone calls.
  • Book Den store closing indefinitely: The Friends of the Sacramento Public Library have announced that their Book Den store will close indefinitely on March 19. It's monthly book sale on April 4 is also canceled. In a news release, the organization said most of their volunteers fall into the high-risk categories for the coronavirus and protecting them is their highest priority.
  • Diocese of Sacramento suspends masses indefinitely: On March 17, the Diocese of Sacramento announced that public celebrations of Sunday and weekday Masses would be suspended until further notice. A livestream Mass will happen on Sundays at 9 a.m. on Facebook. Parish churches will keep regular hours for private prayer.
  • City of Woodland declares local emergency: On March 17, the City of Woodland declared a local emergency and suspended disconnection of water service for non-payment, both during the emergency and for 30 days afterward. The City also passed an ordinance that allows for delays in rent payments, which is meant to help prevent tenant evictions for those who can't pay due to the coronavirus. 
  • Insurance companies directed to maintain health care access during pandemic: Insurance Commissioner Ricard Lara and the Department of Insurance directed health insurance companies to send in plans on prescriptions, maximizing telehealth, and ensuring network provider adequacy.
  • El Dorado school closure extended: Schools is El Dorado County are extending their closures through the district's upcoming spring break, and urging families to prepare for longer closures. There are no positive cases in El Dorado County, however, health officials believe they'll see positive cases in the coming days and weeks.
  • The BottleRock music festival is rescheduling the event to early October due to concerns of the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers have moved the event to October 2-4. The annual concert is held at the Napa Valley Expo in Napa, Calif. “We made this decision with the safety and best interests of our fans, musicians, partners, employees, and community being paramount,” organizers wrote in a press release. “We are committed to putting on the festival to not only share great music and the incredible Napa Valley hospitality, but because it’s vitally important to the livelihood of all those who make BottleRock Napa Valley the festival it is.” All headlining bands have agreed to perform at the rescheduled event in October. The event was originally scheduled to take place from May 22-24.

MORE INFORMATION

OUR MISSION: FACTS NOT FEAR

BACKGROUND

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine; however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Stay home when you are sick.
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  6. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

WHY HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE SO CONCERNED

Some people have compared the low overall death toll to the flu's high annual death toll in the United States as a reason not to be concerned about COVID-19, however, doctors and health officials are concerned for three main reasons:

  1. There's no vaccine yet and won't be one for until early 2021, at the soonest. Scientists are still researching what other medications could help patients. 
  2. Some people have built up immunity to the flu, but few have immunity to COVID-19 version of coronavirus
  3. Both the flu and COVID-19 are spread by droplets, but COVID-19 might be spread in the air. Scientists are researching exactly how COVID-19 spreads.

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WATCH MORE: Dr. Dean Blumberg, the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital, answered some FAQs from ABC10 viewers about the coronavirus.