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California Students Will Get Free Laptops To Help Distance Learning

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Approximately 70,000 California students will receive laptops and tablets, starting this week. Google has also committed to rolling out 100,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the state. It's part of California's attempt to bridge the digital divide preventing some students from accessing online education.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement at a press conference held Monday at noon. You can watch a replay above.

The hotspots will start rolling out the first week of May. The rollout of laptops and tablets has already begun and will continue.

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With schools in California shut down, remote, screen-based learning has become the new norm — and likely will be for the foreseeable future. But not every family has access to the screens or the high-speed internet they need to make that feasible.

Newsom's wife, "first partner" Jennifer Siebel Newsom, made the announcement and thanked several technology companies and entrepreneurs for donating the money to make this possible. She cited Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, HP, Verizon and Zoom as well as Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, and Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, among others.

Newsom also said that although coronavirus hospitalizations are beginning to flatten, the number is still growing.

"We're seeing ICU's bouncing back and forth — modest decreases, modest increases. So progress is being made. You are bending the curve. You're beginning to flatten the curve. But it is still nonetheless rising — deaths continue to rise, hospitalizations modestly continue to rise, and ICU numbers beginning to flatten. But we're not seeing that downward trend we need to see in order to provide more clarity on that roadmap to recovery, which we rolled out last week."

Newsom also commented on the protestors in Sacramento, who are demanding that the state reopen immediately.

"I deeply understand people's anxieties... but I imagine the anxieties of 40 million Californians that are actively participating and advancing our stay-at-home orders," Newsom said. "We must have a health-first focus. If we're ultimately going to come back, economically, the worst mistake we can make is making a precipitous decision based on politics and frustration that puts people's lives at risk, and ultimately sets back the cause of economic growth and economic recovery."

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He cited other countries, such as Singapore and China, that began reopening then saw a new spike in coronavirus infections and had to shut down again. That's actually what happened in Los Angeles during the 1918 flu pandemic.

"We share exactly the same desires and goals to reopen the economy," Newsom said, "but the way we do that, the way we know to do that, is primarily based upon where the virus is at any given point and whether or not it is being transmitted... Those are the determinants. Science, health will be the determinants."

More takeaways

  • 1,208 people in California have died from COVID-19
  • 42 people in California died yesterday
  • Total number of hospitalizations is up 1.9% from yesterday
  • Total number of ICU patients up 2.8% from yesterday
  • On Wednesday, Newsom plans to reveal more details about the reopening plan he announced last week
  • Newsom hopes that by the end of April, California will have the capacity to do 25,000 coronavirus tests per day

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