California Gov. Gavin Newsom urged the state’s nearly 40 million residents to avoid sporting events, concerts and large gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and adamantly warned the elderly to stay away from cruise ships as he pondered measures to restrict cruise travel off the California coast.
The warning came as Newsom announced an update to the painstaking process of disembarking more than 2,000 passengers from a cruise ship struck by the coronavirus and moving them to military bases around the U.S. for a two-week quarantine. The Grand Princess docked in the Port of Oakland Monday after being forced to idle for days off the coast while authorities scrambled to find a suitable port and plan to move the passengers into safe quarantine sites. While at sea, tests on people who showed symptoms of illness confirmed 21 contracted the coronavirus.
“I don’t think people should be on cruise ships that are elderly,” Newsom said. “I don’t think you should high-five one another and hug strangers at large sporting events if you have an underlying health condition.”
He said legal advisers are reviewing the possibility of restricting cruise travel off the California coast as he awaits new federal guidelines on the cruise industry. In the meantime, he said cruise ships ought to introduce aggressive requirements for travelers “at the peril of that industry collapsing.”
Three people have died and 157 Californians have tested positive so far for the coronavirus, a tally that does not include the cruise ship evacuees. Newsom expects the number of cases to significantly rise as more test kits become available.
Newsom stopped short of calling for games to be canceled, but said sports leagues and local health officials bear the responsibility to ensure that large events, including games, can be held safely.
“We want to maximize the disruption for nonessential events, so we can minimize the impact of essential functions and events,” he said.
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