Newsom: Absent Bold Measures, 56% Would Contract Coronavirus

In a letter to President Donald Trump last week, Governor Gavin Newsom said he expects 56% of Californians to contract the coronavirus over an eight-week period. The governor later clarified, saying the 56% figure would likely occur if no mitigation measures are taken.

California is pursuing myriad measures to prevent spread. The most notable measure is a mandatory shelter-in-place order that prohibits gatherings of 10 people and requires non-essential businesses to close.

A look at the numbers shows why the 56% figure is so terrifying. There are around 40 million people in California. A 56% infection rate would mean 22,400,000 people get sick over a period of just two months, many of them requiring hospitalization. If just 1% died, California would lose 224,000 people. That’s greater than the entire population of Stockton, California.

Newsom’s letter requests the deployment of the USNS Mercy hospital ship to the port of Los Angeles through September. The ship could handle standard medical issues requiring hospitalization and allow the state’s existing hospital facilities to concentrate more on those with COVID-19.

“Governor Newsom has been honest about the threat of the virus and its impact on the health and welfare of Californians,” the Governor's Office told The Hill newspaper about the 56% projection. “This projection shows why it’s so critical that Californians take action to slow the spread of the disease – and those mitigation efforts aren’t taken into account in those numbers. The state is deploying every resource at its disposal to meet this challenge, and we continue to ask for the federal government’s assistance in this fight.” 

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore