California orders its nearly 40 million residents to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus

People around the world are finding creative ways to help others as we all grapple with the current pandemic.

California ordered its nearly 40 million residents to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, marking the first statewide mandatory restrictions issued in the United States.

Nineteen people have died and more than 900 have tested positive for the disease in the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order goes into effect Thursday evening and remains in place until further notice.

Under the order, essential services such as gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores and delivery restaurants will remain open. So will banks, local government offices that provide programs and services, and law enforcement agencies.

Nonessential services such as dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms and convention centers will shut down.

A day earlier, Newsom asked President Donald Trump to send a US Navy medical ship to provide more health care options for the state, warning that 56% of California’s population could get infected in two months.

“We project that roughly 56% of our state’s population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period,” he said in a Wednesday letter to Trump asking him to send the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to the port of Los Angeles for use through September 1.

California has been helping people returning to the US from overseas and needs the San Diego-based ship to help “decompress” its health care system as infection rates skyrocket, Newsom wrote.

He warned that infection rates are doubling every four days in some parts of the state.

Newsom told California residents that they can participate in some activities as long as people maintain a social distance.

“Go about the essential patterns of life, but do so by socially distancing themselves from others and do so using a common sense,” Newsom said. “Home isolation is not my preferred choice, but it is a necessary one. This is not a permanent state, it is a moment in time.”

The order will not be enforced by law enforcement, he added.

“I don’t believe the people of California need to be told through law enforcement that it’s appropriate just to home isolate, protect themselves,” Newsom said. “We are confident that the people of the state of California will abide by it and do the right thing.”