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California sees worst 24-hour virus death toll as Gov. Newsom announces economic recovery efforts


California’s daily death toll reached a record high Friday as Gov. Gavin Newsom discussed how the state would navigate a “pandemic-induced recession.”

Calling it the “worst 24-hour period” of the virus the state has seen, Newsom said Friday that health officials recorded another 95 deaths over the last day.

“That’s humbling, and it should be eye-opening to people who think that we’re out of the woods,” Newsom said.

A total of 1,021 people have died of the virus in California as of Friday afternoon and 28,887 people have tested positive, according to the Los Angeles Times tracker, which collects data directly from health care providers and reports it sooner than public officials.

Newsom said social distancing efforts must carry on for the immediate future since the curve has “begun to flatten” but not to the point where “we’re ready to celebrate.” Deaths are still climbing at a concerning rate and infections continue to rise, leaving open the question of when and how California can reopen.

During his daily news briefing, Newsom turned the state’s attention toward how it will rebound economically in the coming months and what that recovery may look like. It’s an unclear picture, still developing as the fight against the virus continues. Newsom said the state will take a cautious approach “predicated on health, predicated on data, predicated on science.”

“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, we’re going to do this thoughtfully and judiciously,” the governor said.

The state is organizing an economic advisory committee to guide recovery efforts, which features former Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger among a total of 80 business figures, according to Newsom. The state expects to spend $7 billion grappling with economic fallout from the outbreak.

“These are sober and challenging times, and we believe very confidently these are not permanent moments,” he said Friday.

An estimated 3.1 million Californians have filed for unemployment since March 12, marking an end to 119 consecutive months of job growth, Newsom said. The state’s unemployment rate now stands at a record-low of 3.9%.

While California plans financial recovery efforts, the ongoing fight against the virus continues to leave health care facilities overwhelmed. Efforts by the state and FEMA have made more crucial supplies available, from ventilators refurbished and supplied by the state to another 1,000 hospital beds provided by the USNS Mercy docked at the Port of L.A.

However, a national shortage of N95 masks in particular has led to medical workers protesting outside hospitals around the state. Those respiratory masks are widely known for providing better protection than other facial coverings like surgical masks or bandanas.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration have described them as critical to the protection of medical workers, telling the general public not to buy the masks since those treating COVID-19 patients need them most.

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