Forty million people woke up to a locked-down California last weekend, where the rate of coronavirus has been doubling every four days. With all or nearly most shutters down, the effect has been decidedly more crippling than it has been in Kolkata or for that matter anywhere else in India.

The degree to which the hospital system will be overwhelmed will depend on how Californians respond to the restrictions in the nervecentre of the Silicon Valley.

There has been a dramatic escalation despite this US state’s attempt to curb the spread of the affliction that could over the next eight weeks infect 25.5 million people, indeed more than half the state’s population.

Verily is California symptomatic of the national emergency in the United States of America; the rest of the country has not been so acutely affected. Food distribution will be in place, but only for humanitarian reasons.

California’s Democrat Governor, Gavin Newsom, said infection rates are doubling every four days in some parts of the state and has issued the dire prediction that 56 per cent of California’s population could contract the virus over the next eight weeks.

That number does not take into account aggressive mitigation efforts underway across the state. Many large counties had already been issuing shelter- in-place orders aimed at keeping Californians confined to their homes and the Governor had directed the closure of bars, gyms and other gathering spaces statewide.

This projection indicates why it is so critical that Californians take action to slow the spread of the disease. In his letter to President Trump, the Governor asserted that 25.5 million people could be infected.

The pandemic has upended life in much of the US, shutting schools and businesses, prompting millions to work from home. Yet it is a measure of the response to the scarcity of essentials ~ contrived or otherwise ~ that the authorities, both in California and New York, have called for the manufacture of ventilators to be stepped up in view of the unexpected surge in cases.

“The ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II,” has been the caveat of the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. While large parts of India are contending with a shortage of masks and hand sanitisers, the Governors of both states have let it be known that the state “would pay a premium” to companies that could provide more personal protective equipment, gloves and masks.”

Ergo, the peak of the crisis in public health showcases a study in contrast, values and care for the sick and the dying. More than 1000 cases have been confirmed in California where 19 people have perished. The official response has been tangible.