American life has changed drastically in the past several days and experts say this is just the beginning.
There are now 5,010 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 97 deaths. In California, at least 557 people have contracted the virus. Among them: Chula Vista City Councilman and California Coastal Commission Chair Steve Padilla.
“This is a scary time,” Padilla said in a statement. “My symptoms — fever, body aches, headaches, chills — came on very rapidly,” he said. “My main concern now is for the well-being of others. My friends and family have been informed and are taking the necessary steps — but it’s my duty to be transparent for the entire community. I must be mindful of all I’ve come in contact with in my service as your Councilman and Coastal Commissioner.”
President Donald Trump and Governor Gavin Newsom have declared states of emergency. The federal national emergency declaration allows funds of up to $50 billion to be transferred quickly to states and local governments. The U.S. has also banned most travel into the country from overseas.
On Monday, several San Francisco Bay Area counties implemented strict shelter-in-place orders that prohibit people from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons. These are some of the strictest social distancing requirements in the country and are on par with measures in Italy, which is now under national quarantine.
Both the state and local governments are limiting large and even medium-sized events. Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order requiring bars and pubs in the state to suspend operations. Restaurants may continue to operate but only at 50% capacity.
The City of Los Angeles has gone further. Mayor Eric Garcetti has ordered the closure of all bars, restaurants, and other venues. Delivery and takeout services are still allowed. With help from the governor, a number of cities are also pursuing bans on evictions and utility shut-offs.
In addition to strain on the health care system, local governments are bracing for the impact on tourism and hotel tax revenue. Disneyland is closed for the remainder of March and hotel rooms will go unbooked. But the empty rooms will not go to waste. An executive order signed by Gavin Newsom allows the state to take over hotels to quarantine coronavirus patients.
Newsom’s executive order also impacts California’s open meetings laws. Under the EO, government officials are permitted to conduct teleconferences in private. Government officials will have to think of more creative ways to conduct the people’s business. We are already hearing about cancellations and postponments of regular government gatherings. The Culver City Council canceled yesterday’s meeting. The California Legislature has gone into early recess until April 13.
Finally, we leave you with some of the latest developments on the virus itself. First, the extraordinary story of how the Washington cluster was first discovered and what it tells us about its initial arrival in the U.S. Secondly, while the disease is most heavily impacting seniors and people with preexisting health conditions, research shows COVID-19 may reduce kidney and lung function, as well as fertility, even in younger people who recover. Also, why it may be unwise to take Ibuprofen if you’re experiencing symptoms.