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California Announces Curfew To Curb Coronavirus Spread

The coronavirus continues to spread across California. There have been more than 68,000 new cases in the last week, and nearly 350 more deaths. Hoping to reduce the surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered most people to stay home, starting Saturday, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Newsom issued the order Thursday, making exceptions for essential workers and activities.

"The virus is spreading at a pace we haven't seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm," Newsom said in a news release. "It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We've done it before and we must do it again."

The order applies only to high-risk counties, but those are 41 of California's 58 counties. Just under38 million people; 94% of the state's population.

A mask mandate has been in place in California since June, but Newsom's new, more stringent order requires Californians to wear masks whenever they are outside of their home. Additionally, the state issued a travel advisory last week. Out-of-state visitors are asked to self-quarantine upon arrival and California residents are urged to avoid nonessential travel altogether.

The order is set to expire on Dec. 21, but could be extended if necessary. California was the first state to execute a stay-at-home orderwhen the pandemic erupted in the spring. It took nearly two months for restrictions to ease.

"We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge. We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time," said Dr. Erica Pan, the California's acting Public Health Officer. "Letting our guard down could put thousands of lives in danger and cripple our health care system."

Experts are unsure whether measures such as curfews will be enough to slow the spread. But top infectious disease experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci continue to say it can be significantly slowed if individuals take steps such as wearing masks and social distancing.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.