Governor Signs Order Allowing California to Take Over Hotels for Coronavirus Patients

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Thursday that will grant the state the power to commandeer hotels and medical facilities to treat patients infected with the novel coronavirus. The order was issued hours after Newsom called for the cancellation of gatherings of 250 people or more through the end of March. 

“This is where we need to go next, and to make sure we fully implement those procedures and protocols to slow down the spread to get through a peak and to get through the next few months, so we don’t overwhelm our healthcare delivery system,” Newsom told reporters.

Under the order, the California Health and Human Services Agency and the Office of Emergency Services will have the ability to execute a takeover of hotels or medical facilities that are not in use to quarantine, isolate, and treat COVID-19 patients. It will also allow for trained laboratory personnel to perform COVID-19 tests, in an effort to speed up testing among the general public. 

California residents are beginning to feel the impact of the spread of the outbreak, as businesses, events, and gatherings are postponed or cancelled altogether. While the executive order calling for a ban on large gatherings has been described by Newsome as “guidance” he said he has the power to enforce closures if it comes to it but does not see that as necessary for the time being. 

“I see people doing the right thing,” Newsom said. “Why take a step that’s unnecessary when people are naturally going to do the right thing? Many times, you don’t need to penalize people or even threaten to penalize them when they say, ‘Well, we’re happy to comply.’ ”

Theme parks, casinos, and theatres are exempt from this directive, but that hasn’t stopped some from following suit. Disney announced it would be closing its Disneyland and California Adventure parks to the public until the end of March, marking the fourth time it has shut its doors in the park’s history. Movie theatres are also working closely with authorities to establish staggered seating and adjusted showtimes to limit the number of people being in close proximity to each other. 

Though the future impact on California residents remains to be seen, Newsom continues to remain optimistic that we are in control of the outcome. “We have agency. We can change the future. So, it is in the sum total of our individual decisions that we will determine the fate of this virus. We will meet or not meet the moment. I am confident we will meet the moment.”

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