Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a statewide hotline Tuesday to help the state's 5.3 million residents older than 65 connect with state and local services during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The state is establishing the hotline, (833) 544-2374, in partnership with organizations like AARP, the Alzheimer's Association, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association to assuage the loneliness and anxiety that the state's older residents may feel during the pandemic as they are self-isolating.
"I don't want to be hearing stories that someone finally knocked on a door and no one answered, only to find out when they opened that door that someone had passed away because we didn't meet the moment," Newsom said.
The hotline is intended to help residents go further than delivering food or medicine to their older family members by connecting them with potentially vital services and programs.
The state is also partnering with local 211 hotline programs to provide similar support to seniors and other vulnerable demographics at a more granular level. Newsom said it was fitting to launch the hotline on March 31, Cesar Chavez Day, in the spirit of service and "meeting this moment."
"It is incumbent upon us to check in on the greatest generation," Newsom said. "People have brought us the world's most vibrant middle class and obviously have done so much for all of us, we have a unique obligation to do more for them."
Newsom also said the state would release specific guidelines on public use of protective masks in the next 24 hours. Medical workers throughout the state and the country have lamented a lack of personal protective equipment like N95 masks as coronavirus cases continue to surge.
While the state has distributed roughly 32.4 million N95 masks to hospitals throughout California, Newsom said the state will need more than 100 million masks to meet the health care system's demand.
"We want to be guided by science and I'll just say this, respectfully, science is a bit incomplete in this space," Newsom said of healthy members of the public wearing protective masks to avoid getting sick.
"A lot of people are promoting face coverings and masks, others caution that it is not a substitute for physical distancing, which it is not, and that it could create a sense that it is," he said.