Gov. Gavin Newsom announces partnership with FEMA to provide meals to seniors during COVID-19 pandemic

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new partnership with FEMA Friday afternoon that will provide three meals each day to California's elderly population struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The partnership was inspired by Steph and Ayesha Curry, the governor said.

During Friday's press conference, Newsom emphasized the state's overall dedication to seniors and those living in skilled nursing homes.

This comes after seven patients died of COVID-19 at a Hayward nursing home. A total of 65 other patients and staff at the home have also tested positive for the virus.

RELATED: Coronavirus outbreak: 7 dead, 65 total COVID-19 cases at Gateway Care & Rehab Center in Hayward

"Skilled nursing facilities continue to be a top priority of our efforts," the governor said.

According to Newsom, there are 1,224 nursing facilities in California and 191 of those are being monitored because of positive cases of COVID-19.

The newest partnership with FEMA is in addition to the Meals on Wheels program, which provides 50,000 meals to California's senior population.

Those 50,000 meals are not enough, Newsom said.

The governor said there are one million seniors isolated at home during this pandemic.

Thanks to FEMA, California is now partnering with restaurants to provide three meals a day to seniors in need.

The governor said California is the first state in the nation to roll out such a program.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's health and human services secretary, also spoke on the importance of social distancing to continue to flatten the curve.

He said overall movement in California is going down, but that physical distancing needs to continue.

In terms of when things may return to normal, the governor said that is "fundamentally determined by your individual behavior."

Newsom said California is very close to making public a strategy about how the state will be reopened.

He emphasized that any decision to reopen the state is dependent on maintaining current physical distancing guidelines.

"Give us a few more weeks to see where these trend lines go," the governor said.

Ahead of Easter this Sunday, Newsom also addressed in-person religious gatherings.

He did not call for a ban on gatherings, but encouraged distancing.

Gov. Newsom asked Californians to practice their faith "in a way that allows you to keep yourself healthy, keep others healthy, and does justice to the teachings of Christ, God, and others."

A total of 19,472 Californians have tested positive for coronavirus and 2,897 remain hospitalized.

Newsom says 1,145 patients with COVID-19 are in the ICU -- which is a 1.1 percent increase from Thursday.

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