Newsom signs executive order halting foreclosures, utility shutoffs

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomWatch live: California Gov. Gavin Newsom holds coronavirus press briefing Watch live: California Gov. Newsom holds coronavirus briefing Vote-by-mail would create chaos and distrust in November MORE (D) signed an executive order Monday night halting foreclosures and evictions in the state while also directing the state utilities commission to monitor efforts by companies to prevent utility shutoffs.

An order issued by the governor's office Monday night temporarily authorizes local governments to halt evictions and directs the state's Department of Business Oversight and Housing to collaborate on efforts to help Californians avoid foreclosure.

The efforts come as the state is seeking to slow the spread of the coronavirus and as public officials have faced criticism from progressive activists for not doing more to halt evictions and provide rent relief amid the outbreak, which has sickened thousands and caused thousands more to suffer lost wages due to shuttered businesses.

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“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” said Newsom. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices — but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians.”

Newsom's order will remain in effect through the end of May.

More than 170,000 people have been sickened worldwide by the virus, including 473 confirmed cases in California.

Updated on March 17 at 6:34 a.m.