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California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for seniors and people with chronic conditions to isolate themselves during the coronavirus pandemic, raising questions about the state’s capacity to ensure delivery of food, medicine and services to some of its most vulnerable residents.
Newsom pledged that his office would address specific issues related to this directive in a plan to be released on Tuesday, after state officials and private industry collaborate and work out the details. He did not say how long he expected that people would have to isolate themselves since no one knows how long the pandemic will last or how bad it will get.
The governor’s advisory does not carry the force of law, but Newsom said he would not hesitate to sign an executive order making it mandatory if the directive is not followed.
“If you want to establish a framework of martial law which is ultimate authority and enforcement, we have the capacity to do that, but we are not at this moment thinking that is a necessity,” Newsom said.
It’s unclear how the government will coordinate the delivery of meals to an estimated 5.7 million California seniors and millions of other Californians who suffer from heart, respiratory, kidney and immune system disorders.
“We are doing so with our eyes wide open at the magnitude of what that means and the need to provide wraparound services to support our seniors in need of medical supplies, in need of meals and the like,” Newsom said at a press conference.’
Read more: What you need to know about California’s ‘lockdown’ of seniors and the chronically ill