Coronavirus Crisis: Gov. Gavin Newsom says California is in a 'pandemic-induced recession,' creates task force led by Tom Steyer

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In his daily update on novel coronavirus in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom focused on the devastating economic impact of the pandemic.

After years of a growing economy, Newsom said California is now in a "pandemic-induced recession."

The economic fallout caused by COVID-19 has ended 120 straight months of job creation, the governor said.

March saw 3.1 million Californians apply for unemployment benefits, bringing the unemployment rate to 5.3%. That number "masks the reality of the where the real unemployment is today," said Newsom, as it does not reflect under-employed or gig economy workers, for example.

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To help California recover from the recession, Newsom announced the creation of the Governor's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. The task force will be led by former presidential candidate, San Francisco billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer. It is made up of 80 other leaders, including four former California governors, Jackie Reses of Square, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, PolicyLink founder Angela Glover Blackwell, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Disney is one of the largest employers in the state and is ABC7's parent company.

"You're talking about a company that's a hundred years old. Whether its global economic crisis or terrorists attacks. What we do, what we do for people is always wanted and always enjoyed. And so we tend to have an ability to bounce back because we manufacture happiness in so many different ways," Iger said.

"We are the most diverse and the largest state in the union," said Newsom. "We recognize our unique responsibility as Californians to do our fair share and lead the way in terms of job creation."

Newsom also gave an update on the human toll of the virus Friday. He said 95 additional people have died as a result of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day death toll in California thus far. So far, 985 Californians have died.

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Hospitalizations went up by 1.2% while ICU hospitalizations dropped by a modest 1.4%.

"We have bent the curve, it has begun to flatten. But again it has not moved in the direction that we are ultimately ready to celebrate."

Earlier this week, Newsom has announced a plan to eventually reopen the state, a massive expansion of unemployment benefits, additional paid sick leave for food workers, and a $125 million fund to help undocumented Californians who have lost work due to COVID-19.

Newsom signed an executive order Thursday to grant two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to California food workers who have been infected with COVID-19, exposed to the virus, or are otherwise ordered to quarantine and isolate.

"I heard a few grocery workers say this: 'We're called essential workers, but increasingly we feel like we are disposable.' I want you to know you're not disposable. You're essential and valued."

There are more than 26,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide. See the latest numbers around the Bay Area here.

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