SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday confirmed that California had suffered the most number of deaths in a single day of the COVID-19 emergency, while also announcing two new measures that would provide some debt relief for Californians hit hard financially by the pandemic.
Thursday afternoon, Newsom made the somber announcement that Wednesday had marked the deadliest day for COVID-19 patients with 115 additional deaths confirmed. The state’s death toll is now 1,469 and public health officials have confirmed 37,369 cases statewide.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
The new deaths were an 8.5 percent increase from the day before.
On the positive side, Newsom said that for the first time both hospitalization and ICU cases were down, with hospitalizations dropping 4.4 percent and ICU cases dropping 1.2 percent. The state now has 3,343 coronavirus patients in the hospital and 1,204 in intensive care.
The governor opened Thursday’s COVID-19 response briefing by focusing on debt and financial support being offered in stimulus payments. Newsom said that 21 companies that service student loans will be granting 90-day grace period on payments with no late fees.
Newsom credited Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for leading the effort to support borrowers who were not covered by debt forbearance in the $2.2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Pritzker announced a similar order Tuesday for residents with private and non-federal student loans.
The agreement with those companies will provide 1.1 million Californians with student loan debt a break from those obligations.
Newsom also said he signed an executive order that bars debt collectors from garnishing funds stimulus payments. The order will also be retroactive, forcing debt collectors to return any money that had been garnished from previous stimulus payments.
However, Newsom noted that the executive order would not protect those who owe child care or spousal support.
Newsom also confirmed that 16 doctors were leaving the state to provide care in New York, where the coronavirus continues to be centered. He gave kudos to UCSF, saluting the school for sending 20 doctors and nurses to New York to offer help earlier this month.
“One of the great benefits of these doctors going out on the front lines in New York is what they will bring back, which is a deep understanding and knowledge of what’s happening in the most acute point of the crisis in this country, and bring that to bear here in the state of California,” Newsom said.
The governor thanked the state’s residents who had joined the Californians For All initiative announced earlier this week. A total of 22,000 people signed up on the website in the first day it launched.
Touching briefly on the planned increase in testing that had been a focus of Wednesday’s update, Newsom referred to a conversation with President Trump and confirmed that 90,000 promised testing swabs were coming to California to be distributed Friday with an additional 10,000 swabs still expected. The swabs are needed to administer one of the types of coronavirus tests.
Newsom also warned the state’s residents that, with weather forecasts indicating another warm and sunny weekend, now was not the time to rebel against the stay-at-home order.
“Look, we’re walking into a very warm weekend, the most beautiful weekend to the extent you love warm weather, since January, or arguably since last summer in the state of California. And that means people are prone to want to go the beaches, parks, playgrounds, and go on a hike” Newsom said. “And I anticipate there’ll be a significant increase in volume. But I also think that if there is, and people aren’t practicing physical distancing, I’ll be announcing in a week or so these numbers going back up. I don’t think anybody wants to hear that.”
“As this disease continues to spread, we must continue to spread vigilance,” he concluded.
Raw Video: Gov. Gavin Newsom remarks on maintaining social distancing and shelter-in-place orders