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Gov. Newsom: Face Coverings May Help (But Keep Social Distancing); 774 In ICUs With COVID-19

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In his daily coronavirus update, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state is going to provide additional guidance on face masks today. He noted that face masks may help, but are not a replacement for social distancing.

You can watch the video of Newsom's press conference above — here are the highlights:

CALIFORNIA'S CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

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There are now 774 Californians suffering from coronavirus in ICU beds, according to Newsom, with a total of 1,855 hospitalized in the state. The number of those in the ICU is up 16.4% from the day before. There are 8,155 Californians who have tested positive for coronavirus.

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The impact of stay-at-home efforts in California, according to the state. (Screenshot via Gov. Gavin Newsom's Facebook page)

If we continue with current coronavirus mitigation practices, the state's hospitalization numbers follow the purple line in the above chart, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Secretary of Health and Human Services. However, we are still on track to exceed our hospitals' Phase 1 surge capacity even with social distancing and other current efforts, Ghaly said.

The first phase or surge capacity will bring the state's total hospital beds up to 50,000 available, Ghaly said. Towards the end of May, the state will need an estimated 66,000 hospital beds, he said.

FACE COVERINGS

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Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing, Newsom said. People should not go out and try to get N95 masks or surgical masks, Newsom added. Additional guidelines will be released today.

Wearing face masks may help to reduce the spread of the disease in asymptomatic carriers, according to Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health. She cautioned against a false sense of security and stressed the need to maintain social distancing, but said they may provide some added protection.

THE STATE'S SCHOOLS AND CORONAVIRUS

Newsom said he is pleased with the announcement that California schools are unlikely to go back to in-person learning this school year, due to the nature of what coronavirus modeling is showing for cases in the state.

Students who are on track for graduation should still be able to graduate, and new guidance will be released today, California State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond said. The state is working with universities to help students deal with not being able to take the SAT, with work being accepted in a pass/fail format without a negative effect on GPAs, according to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond.

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A partnership with Google was announced to improve wifi and broadband access, Newsom said, with 100,000 hotspot points of access throughout the state to high-quality broadband, free for at least 3 months. He added that Google has also announced that they will be providing thousands of Chromebooks.

HEALTH CARE SUPPLIES AND WORKER SURGE

The federal government has sent several series of medical personal protective equipment deliveries to California, with the fourth just sent, Newsom said.

More than 34,000 people have applied as part of the state's health care worker surge since the program launched on Monday, Newsom said.

SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COVID-19

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We're all living through this extraordinary and frightening pandemic. The vast majority of our newsroom has been working from home (here's some advice on that) since March 11 to bring you calm, helpful reporting. We are answering your questions and taking more.

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