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California governor approves $1 billion in emergency coronavirus funds

LOS ANGELES, March 17 (Reuters) - California's governor on Tuesday authorized the use of about $1 billion in emergency funds to help the state's people deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said the money would be used to increase hospital capacity, provide services to Californians isolating or quarantined at home and provide shelter for the homeless.

"This money will provide more hospital beds and medical equipment to help hospitals deal with the coming surge and it will help protect those who are most at risk. I am grateful to the legislature for their quick action," Newsom said in a written statement after signing the measure into law.

Lawmakers in California's legislature on Monday approved the bill, which appropriates $500 million from the state's general fund and makes an equal amount available if needed.

At least 11 people have died from COVID-19 in California, the country's most populous state, behind only Washington and New York. Nearly 500 people have tested positive for the respiratory illness in California.

The mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles have ordered bars, restaurants and gyms to close and urged residents to stay indoors.

All told more than 6,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across the United States and at least 104 people have died from its effects. (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Grant McCool)