California Orders All Residents To Stay Home Save For Certain Essential Activities

Mar 20, 2020
Originally published on March 20, 2020 7:02 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

I'm actually at the top of the Culver Steps here, which during normal times is a destination for a lot of people who live in LA because once you crest this gorgeous hill, you get to take in this sparkling, panoramic view of the whole city. But today it's pretty quiet. You hear more birds chirping than people talking. And we came up here because we wanted to check in with some people who, even though they're under stay-at-home orders in California, they managed to get out to get in some exercise and some sunshine.

AMAKA EZUCCI: I want to be frank. I can't wait till this thing is over.

CHANG: Yeah. When that stay-at-home order came down last night, what were the first thoughts that went through your head?

EZUCCI: I literally, like - the idea of feeling, like, put on timeout or in detention or, like - it just kind of - I don't know. I'm battling that a little bit.

CHANG: (Laughter).

EZUCCI: But I've been, like, cooking more, taking care of, like, my natural hair more, self-care more a little bit...

CHANG: Yeah.

EZUCCI: ...Like, slowly.

CHANG: All right, we all got the stay-at-home order in California. But you guys came out here. Tell me why.

JANET BRAVO: We've been working out. Like, it's, like, a thing that we usually do all the time.

CHANG: You usually go into a gym.

BRAVO: Uh-huh. Exactly. So now that there's no gym, it's like, we need to find something to do. So why not come and take a walk or take a hike or something?

CHANG: How has your life changed in the last just several days.

JUAN MARTINEZ: A lot. No work. My company shut down, so we haven't been working for the last week.

CHANG: What kind of work do you do?

MARTINEZ: Security. Yeah. So everything's shut down, and there's no time frame when we're going to go back. And I got a lot of bills to pay. And yeah, a lot of uncertainty.

CHANG: Do you think the governor made the right call?

BRAVO: I think so because, like, a lot of people weren't taking it serious. I mean, my friends were like, oh, let's go to my house and, like, just drink there, like a large group of people.

CHANG: Yeah.

BRAVO: And I'm like, no, like, just stay home, like people said to do so. That's what we have to do.

CHANG: That was Janet Bravo (ph) and Juan Martinez (ph). And before that, we heard from Amaka Ezucci (ph). And just a note - hiking and exercising outside is still perfectly fine under the governor's orders here in California. Here to explain more about those orders is NPR's Adrian Florido. He's in Culver City with me. Hey, Adrian.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: All right, so remind us what was Governor Newsom's exactly? And how did he explain why he's taking this drastic Step?

FLORIDO: So the governor's order means stay home. If you don't need to go outside to get food or to get medicine or to care for a loved one, then just stay home. Now, that's the order. As you found this morning, people are still going outside, especially for exercise, which officials are telling people is OK, if they keep their distance. The governor also ordered most businesses across the state to close, except for those providing essential services.

In terms of why he's doing this, he's worried about coronavirus patients overwhelming the state's health care system. When he announced the order yesterday, he said that some projections show more than half of the state's 40 million residents could get sick, which would mean a massive shortage of hospital beds and many deaths.

CHANG: Right.

FLORIDO: And that's what he wants to avoid.

CHANG: Right. Well, I mean, in a state as huge as California, I imagine that enforcement of this order is going to be really, really complicated and tough. So what have officials said about how they will enforce this order?

FLORIDO: They've been a little bit vague about enforcement. Here in Los Angeles, the county sheriff has said that he does not plan to make arrests to enforce the governor's orders.

CHANG: Good to hear.

FLORIDO: And Governor Newsom himself said that he actually thinks the greatest enforcement tool is going to be peer pressure. We heard some of that from the woman you spoke with at the top who was discouraging her friends from getting together.

CHANG: I mean, California is the country's largest state. There's - what? - almost 40 million people living here, including you and me.

FLORIDO: Right.

CHANG: What are some of the challenges in dealing with a crisis like this coronavirus pandemic that might be specific to a state like California?

FLORIDO: So a very big - a big one, a huge one is homelessness. Even before the coronavirus crisis, California was in a homelessness crisis. You drive the length of the state and you see homelessness in communities that have never struggled with it before.

CHANG: Yeah.

FLORIDO: And so officials know that unhoused people are among the most vulnerable during this crisis because they often live in tent communities. They have preexisting conditions. They don't have easy access to showers, to hand-washing facilities. In recent days, officials here in LA announced plans to get thousands of people off the streets into new makeshift shelters and hotels, and earlier today, I saw them setting up mobile showers near parks.

Another big challenge is one that we're seeing across the country; health care workers here in the state saying they don't have enough of the equipment and supplies they need to stay safe - masks, gloves, goggles. Earlier this month, Governor Newsom got approval from the CDC to use masks that the state has in reserve, but a lot of those are past their use-by date. But, you know, they're saying this crisis is so big, we can't let this spiral out of control, so these supplies we have are better than nothing.

CHANG: That is NPR's Adrian Florido on the latest in California.

Thank you, Adrian.

FLORIDO: Thanks, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.