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California nears 1,000th coronavirus death as economy tumbles

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                An electronic sign on Santa Monica Boulevard reminds people to wear masks to limit the spread of coronavirus on Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    An electronic sign on Santa Monica Boulevard reminds people to wear masks to limit the spread of coronavirus on Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

LOS ANGELES >> California neared the 1,000-death mark today as coronavirus pushed the state into recession and Gov. Gavin Newsom named a task force of former governors, billionaires and corporate leaders to help the state recover economically after he begins easing restrictions that have shuttered many businesses.

Even as signs have emerged of an improving outlook for control of the virus, the state recorded its greatest number of deaths in one day, 95, eclipsing the previous mark of 71, to a total of 985 deaths. It also reported for the first time that 3,500 — or about 12% — of its more than 27,000 cases are in nursing homes or adult care facilities.

“We are coming close to that thousandth mark we hoped we would never see,” Newsom said.

His announcement of a nonpartisan group that includes all four living former governors — two Democrats, like Newsom, and two Republicans — came after dismal unemployment figures ended a record 10-year economic growth streak.

“We are now in a pandemic-induced recession here in the state of California,” Newsom said. “These are sober and challenging times.”

The growth period ended as the state lost 100,000 jobs in March, a figure that barely begins to account for damage done to the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Those March job losses occurred before the governor issued a stay-at-home order that only allows essential employees to work, effectively closing most shops, bars and restaurants that don’t offer takeout food. Schools have been closed, and employees who can, are working remotely.

In order to begin lifting restrictions, the state will need to test 25,000 people a day and track down those they may have infected. Current testing levels are below 20,000 a day, but testing sites continue to expand.

Los Angeles County said free, same-day tests are now available for all residents who have symptoms of COVID-19.

Riverside County announced it would begin testing residents who want a test but don’t have symptoms.

“We’re testing people already when they’re sick, but we need to understand how COVID-19 is affecting people who may generally feel well, including kids,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, said in a statement. “That’s going to be a key indicator for understanding how it spreads and knowing where our areas of concern are when we think about if and how much to open things again.”

Meanwhile San Francisco, Contra Costa and Marin counties joined others in the state that previously began requiring people to wear masks or other face coverings to be worn in certain public settings to prevent spread of the virus.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the order would take effect Saturday, but police will not enforce it until Wednesday. She also told people the new order should not take the place of physical distancing or staying at home, and that people shouldn’t use the opportunity to police others.

“If you are not a police officer don’t act like one,” she said. “What we don’t want is more confrontation more stress and more drama in general as a result of this order.”

Like the other counties, the coverings will be required when people are indoors or waiting in line to get into grocery stores or on a bus or other essential businesses.

More large events were also scratched as a result of pandemic.

San Diego’s Comic-Con was canceled, though organizers said they plan for the festival to return in July 2021.

Taylor Swift canceled all performances for the year, including a July performance that would serve as the opening of Los Angeles’ new SoFi Stadium, the new home of the San Diego Chargers. She would have become the first woman to open an NFL stadium, organizers said.

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