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Unemployed Californians to get extra $600 in weekly benefits starting Sunday | Local coronavirus update

California has processed about 2.3 million unemployment insurance claims in the last four weeks, more than the total number of claims filed in 2019.

Here are the latest updates on coronavirus and how local governments are responding to the illness, with a focus on California for Thursday, April 9.

CALIFORNIA STATUS UPDATE

The California Department of Public Health reports:

  • Confirmed cases: 18,309 (As of April 9).
  • 492 deaths (including one non-California resident)
  • 22 state and county labs processing tests for COVID-19. As of April 5, approximately 177,600 tests have been conducted.
  • Click here for complete information on coronavirus, unemployment, and more from the state of California.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS 

  • California governor encouraged by drop in ICU placements: California has seen its first daily decrease in intensive care hospitalizations during the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday the number of ICU placements declined by 1.9% on Wednesday. He said the decline was encouraging, but urged people not to read too much into it. Newsom has said the number of ICU hospitalizations is a key indicator for how many health care workers and medical supplies the state needs. Newsom also said California hospitals are using only about one-third of their ventilators. He said about 8,000 ventilators are available. California has more than 19,100 cases and at least 507 deaths.
  • Californians receiving unemployment benefits will begin seeing $600 increase in their weekly benefits, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday. The increase to benefits will begin Sunday as part of the new Pandemic Additional Compensation (PAC) initiated by the CARES Act. California has processed about 2.3 million unemployment insurance claims in the last four weeks, more than the total number of claims filed in 2019. Just last week, the state's Employment Development Department processed 925,450 claims for unemployment.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that the state's healthcare workers access to no-cost or low-cost hotel rooms. The program, which is partially funded by FEMA’s disaster relief funds, will prioritize healthcare workers who come into contact, or are suspected to, with COVID-19 patients, as well as those who have tested positive for the virus but don't need to be hospitalized. The state identifie 150 hotels that have opted in to provide discounted rates and are close to medical facilities, allowing healthcare workers to avoid potentially spreading the virus after their shifts. California Health Corps workers can make reservations through the Department of General Services (DGS) CalTravelStore beginning Friday, April 10. The state said it is prioritizing hotels that in highly populated counties and those with high numbers of COVID-19 patients. 
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that United Airlines will provide free, round-trip flights for volunteer medical professionals looking to join California's healthcare workforce. The airline will send healthcare workers and supplies to areas that are struggling most during the pandemic. The state is also working with other major airlines, including Southwest, Alaska Airlines, and Delta, to offer similar services to the health care workforce.

  • Two homeless Sacramento residents have tested positive for coronavirus, a county spokesperson confirms. It is unclear how old those two individuals are, but the spokesperson tells ABC10 both people have been hospitalized. Officials are still working to determine where the two patients contracted the virus. County officials are still working to determine best practices for reporting coronavirus information specifically when it relates to then homeless population, the spokesperson said.
  • Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg launched a new campaign aimed at honoring healthcare workers. Starting April 8, downtown Sacramento landmarks were bathed in blue light as part of the #LightSactoBlue campaign and now Steinberg is encouraging residents to get involved, too. “Let’s do this not only to show solidarity to our health care workers and first responders but to all the essential workers whose jobs put them at personal risk on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic,” Steinberg said. The idea was inspired by Great Britain’s blue lighting camping, which began several weeks ago and just this past week turned the tower of Windsor Castle blue.
  • San Joaquin County coronavirus update: San Joaquin County officials have confirmed 237 cases of coronavirus in the county. There have been 14 deaths so far.
  • Stanislaus County coronavirus update: Officials in Stanislaus County have confirmed 95 coronavirus cases in the county. As of April 8, they say there have been no deaths and 59 people have recovered.
  • 25 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus: In the latest count from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, officials say 25 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. There 62 CDCR and CCHCS employees total who have tested positive so far.
  • Nugget Markets will require masks while shopping in stores: In a letter from Nugget Market CEO Eric Stille, he announced that all customers at the grocery store will be required to wear a face mask or scarf covering their nose and mouth. The new policy will go into effect on April 13. Employees at the grocery store are now wearing masks while working. "I know this might upset a few of you and I apologize in advance, but this will offer all of us the most protection! Extreme times call for extreme measures and I feel this is what’s best to help curb the spread of the virus and protect us all," Stille wrote in the letter.

OUR MISSION: FACTS NOT FEAR

Coronavirus Background

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine; however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Stay home when you are sick.
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  6. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

WHY HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE SO CONCERNED

Some people have compared the low overall death toll to the flu's high annual death toll in the United States as a reason not to be concerned about COVID-19, however, doctors and health officials are concerned for three main reasons:

  1. Some people have built up immunity to the flu, but few have immunity to COVID-19 version of coronavirus
  2. Both the flu and COVID-19 are spread by droplets, but COVID-19 might be spread in the air. Scientists are researching exactly how COVID-19 spreads.
  3. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public where social distancing measures would be difficult to maintain, like at grocery stores or pharmacy.

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