FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

(The Center Square) – The number of coronavirus cases in California rose to 948, health officials said Thursday, and the number of deaths rose by two to 19. To combat the spread, Gov. Gavin Newsom placed California on lockdown.

Under Newsom's order, California residents are allowed to leave their homes only to buy food, pick up prescriptions, go to the doctor or what is considered an essential job.

At a Thursday news conference, Newsom said the state projects up to 56 percent of California residents – more than 25 million people – will be infected with COVID-19 over the next eight weeks.

Newsom sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking that a Navy hospital ship, the USNC Mercy Hospital, be deployed to the Port of Los Angeles until at least Sept. 1 to treat victims of the respiratory ailment.

"This resource will help decompress the health care delivery system to allow the Los Angeles region to ensure that it has the ability to address critical acute care needs, such as heart attacks and strokes or vehicle accidents,” Newsom wrote in the letter.

Earlier Thursday, Sacramento joined a growing list of California communities to institute a ban on residents leaving their home for nonessential purposes. Residents who violate the order can be charged with a misdemeanor. Newsom's order later Thursday put the ban in effect statewide.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

Executive Editor

Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago.