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California Struggles To Keep Up With Unemployment Applications; Face Masks Recommended

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Gov. Gavin Newsom is delivering his daily update on California's response to coronavirus. You can watch the live video above and follow this post for updates.

There are 816 people with COVID-19 in the ICU in California, with 1,922 in the hospital system overall, Newsom said.

FACE MASKS

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When asked about more specific guidance on masks being offered in the City of Los Angeles and Riverside County, Newsom said that face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing. However, he said the state does believe it will be beneficial to have a face covering if entering a space where social distancing is difficult, including grocery stores. He reiterated the need to preserve N-95 face masks and surgical masks for health care workers.

CORONAVIRUS TESTING

Newsom noted that there is a growing backlog in coronavirus testing, with results taking up to 12 days; 59,500 tests are waiting to be processed. He also said the state continued to have a limited number of tests available. But they plan to provide what he said would be "very good news" in the next couple days on improving the state's testing capacity.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

The state has been overwhelmed by the demand for unemployment insurance, according to Newsom, but is working to address applications in a timely fashion. Newsom recommended going to the state's COVID19.ca.gov site as the easiest way to apply.

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FINDING A NEW JOB

Newsom announced a new jobs website, OnwardCA.org, a partnership between the company Bitwise with LinkedIn and Salesforce. Using 37 questions, it helps match people, based on their skill set, with open jobs. The site currently lists 70,000 jobs and will likely have more than 100,000 listed in the next few days, according to Newsom.

SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

The state is offering a one-year reprieve on sales tax, allowing small businesses to keep up to $50,000 in sales tax they've collected for the next 12 months before having to pay it to the state, Newsom said.

Newsom said he wanted to highlight two small business loan programs. One of them allows small businesses to take a $10,000 loan up front as applications are being processed, if the business has been economically affected by the coronavirus.

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The other is part of the recent $2.2 trillion CARES program passed by the federal government, allowing businesses to take out loans up to $10 million if they continue to pay their employees. Those applications open starting this Friday, April 3. Much of that loan can ultimately be paid for by the federal government, Newsom said.

The state is making $50 million available for micro-loans for people who wouldn't otherwise be eligible for small business relief through other programs.

Newsom said that "small businesses" can include the self-employed, as well as independent contractors.

The governor said he was satisfied with the current guidance for construction continuing at this time.

CHURCH SOCIAL DISTANCING

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Social distancing is essential, Newsom said, and the state would highly encourage those not observing it to do so, including in houses of worship. If they refuse, the state will apply social pressure and advance additional enforcement, though they will first look to local leaders to enforce those policies, according to Newsom.

HOMELESSNESS RESPONSE

Newsom said that the state will be making more detailed announcements on California's response to homelessness during Friday's press conference.

SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COVID-19

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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