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California Governor Expects State To Spend $7B Fighting Virus In 2020

The state has already spent $2 billion on efforts such as housing the homeless in hotels and issuing cash payments to undocumented workers.
Posted at 3:16 PM, Apr 17, 2020

California governor Gavin Newsom says he expects the state to spend up to $7 billion this year fighting the coronavirus and the economic downturn caused by it. The projection doesn't include increased costs for social safety net programs like Medicaid.

Newsom's budget advisers disclosed the figure to state lawmakers Thursday, as the legislature's joint budget committee held the first oversight hearing of the more than $2 billion already spent fighting the virus. 

That money was spent on efforts such as housing the homeless in hotels, granting small business loans and issuing cash payments to undocumented workers.

Lawmakers pressed administration officials about a nearly $1 billion agreement with a Chinese-owned company to provide California 200 million masks a month. Details of the contract haven't been released, so some lawmakers questioned whether the masks would ever arrive. But the governor's team said mask demand is so high, they're afraid the supply could be disrupted if they release too much information.

Newsom was one of the first governors to declare a stay-at-home order, announcing the measures in mid-March. Earlier this week, he outlined plans to potentially reopen California's economy, saying social distancing has helped flatten the curve in the state.