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With five deaths and 247 confirmed cases, California now has the third largest number of cases in the nation

Response to the coronavirus outbreak drastically escalated in California this week, with officials working to curb the spread by canceling school, postponing festivals and prohibiting large gatherings.

As of Friday, the virus had killed five people in California, with 247 cases confirmed now the third largest number of cases in the nation, after Washington and New York.

Los Angeles unified school district, the second largest school district in the country, announced Friday that it would be closing its more than 1,300 schools for two weeks, a move that will affect more than 734,000 students and their families.

Los Angeles unified serves a high-needs population, and our schools provide a social safety net for our children, Austin Beutner, the superintendent of the LA unified school district, said in a statement. The closing of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instructional time. This is not an easy decision and not one we take lightly.

San Diego unified school district, Oakland unified school district and Santa Clara unified school district followed suit by closing their schools for three weeks, just as San Francisco unified school district announced it would on Thursday. Other districts across California, including in Santa Cruz and Berkeley, are closing their schools because of coronavirus.

Closing schools deeply affects so many of our families who depend on schools to provide a safe place for their children, food, and many other services, Kyla Johnson-Trammell, the superintendent of Oakland schools, said in a statement. School sites have been and will continue to be crafting continuity of education plans, with each school preparing to provide assignments to students.

And across the University of California system, administrators suspended in-person classes, pivoting to remote instruction and canceling campus events. University housing remained open, but on some campuses, students were encouraged to go home.

Meanwhile, state public health experts released recommendations Wednesday night calling for large gatherings of 250 people or more to be rescheduled or canceled. They also recommended that venues that do not allow social distancing of 6ft per person to cancel or postpone events, as well as any gathering that brings people together in a single space at one time, be it an auditorium or a conference room.

Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know, Gavin Newsom, Californias governor, said in a statement. Thats the choice before us.

The recommendation came after San Francisco and Santa Clara county fully banned all gatherings of 1,000 or more. On Friday, London Breed, the San Francisco mayor, went a step further and fully banned all gatherings of 100 or more.

San Francisco will also close its public libraries and recreation centers to the public starting Monday, and open emergency childcare and youth centers in the wake of the public school closures.

Earlier in the week, the famed music festival Coachella, known for drawing hundreds of thousands to the California desert, was postponed to October. Soon after, Disney agreed to close its California parks until the end of March. Disney made the right call in the interest of public health and agreed to shut down their California parks, Newsom said. Expect more announcements like this shortly.

The week began with officials scrambling to figure out what to do with the Grand Princess cruise ship, which had been stuck off the coast of California after 21 on board tested positive for coronavirus. The ship originally destined for San Francisco ended up docked in the larger and more industrial port of Oakland, where it remained Friday after a slow five days of disembarking2,450 passengers to quarantine locations elsewhere. According to the cruise line, 14 international passengers were still on the ship, awaiting transportation to their home countries.

A lack of testing capacity has caused an outcry nationwide, and California made strides on that front this week. Experts at the University of California San Diego Health, UC San Francisco Health and UC Los Angeles Health can now offer their own in-house testing for coronavirus, taking place in hospital laboratories for patients who meet clinical recommendations. UC Davis Health and UC Irvine Health will be able to begin in-house testing within the next week or so as well, said the UC Health spokesman Michael Crawford.

Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente rolled out a pilot program for drive-up testing in northern California, allowing for patients who meet criteria for testing and have a doctors order and an appointment to get tested with minimal exposure.

California had the capacity to conduct 8,227 tests as of Thursday, Newsom said in a press conference. But many of the testing kits provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were missing the key components to conducts the analyses.

The test kits do not include in every case the RNA extraction kits, the reagents, the chemicals, the solutions that are components of the broader tests, he said. This is imperative that the federal government and labs across the United States, not just state of California, get the benefit of all the ingredients, the components of the test. I am surprised this is not more of the national conversation.

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