Gov. Gavin Newsom: 5 big banks suspend mortgage payments

Five of the nation’s largest banks agreed to temporarily suspend residential mortgage payments for people affected by the coronavirus, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 2:45 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 4:58 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Five of the nation’s largest banks agreed to temporarily suspend residential mortgage payments for people affected by the coronavirus, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

The announcement came as Newsom provided yet another grim statistic about the economic devastation from the virus: 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 13 as businesses shut down or dramatically scaled back because of a statewide “stay-at-home” order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Meantime, Newsom said California is rapidly expanding its supply of equipment for health care workers and hospital beds in anticipation of the expected surge in patients that will come as more people are infected. Testing for the virus is accelerating quickly as the state adds locations for the public to get checked.

“We are leaning in to meet this moment,” Newsom said.

Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi and JP Morgan Chase will defer mortgage payments for three months. State-chartered banks and credit unions will offer similar deferrals. Newsom said everyone is eligible, regardless of how much money they make. He said homeowners must submit “some form of documentation,” but did not give details.

“I thought the Great Recession was overwhelming, and we really had to react. This one is much bigger,” said Diana Dykstra, CEO of the California-Nevada Credit Union League. “People’s health is on the line, it’s deeper and broader than that crisis was. It was a housing crisis. This is a crisis for everyone.”

Newsom criticized Bank of America for only agreeing to waive mortgage payments for one month. But Bank of American spokesman Bill Halldin said the company isn’t capping its offer at 30 days. It will consider delaying payments on a monthly basis that could extend beyond 90 days depending on the length of the crisis.

The news comes after Congress reached an agreement with the Trump administration on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to keep the economy afloat during the crisis. The plan would increase weekly unemployment benefits by $600 more than what states are already providing.

For California, that means the unemployed would be eligible for up to $1,000 per week. That’s on top of the $1,200 many adults will get as a one-time payment under the stimulus package.

More help could be on the way for Californians. Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, said Tuesday state lawmakers could consider a state stimulus package to supplement whatever Congress approves.

Coronavirus cases in California are increasing as more testing is done. A tally by Johns Hopkins University counted nearly 3,000 infections and at least 65 deaths. Confirmed cases in the state are doubling every three to four days, according to California Health and Human Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

California hospitals are preparing for a surge of patients, with state officials projecting the state will need an additional 50,000 hospital beds. Last week, Newsom announced the state had leased Seton Medical Center in Daly City, a hospital that was slated to close after its parent company filed for bankruptcy. On Wednesday, Newsom said the 357-bed facility is operational.

“A significant milestone,” he said.

The governor’s office also announced it is emptying the state’s special fund for “economic uncertainties” and using the $1.3 billion to buy protective equipment for health care workers and medical supplies and to help hospitals increase their capacity.

When the crisis began, California had a stockpile of 21 million masks for health care workers but was down to 2.5 million on Monday. The state has now acquired 100 million masks and is looking for more, Newsom said. The state also has authorized the procurement of 1 billion gloves.

The state has conducted 66,800 virus tests so far, Newsom said. That’s nearly 40,000 more tests than he had previously been announced. The quick increase comes because more labs are now reporting their testing numbers, he said.

Tens of thousands of people tested are still awaiting results, Newsom said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117215

Reported Deaths: 4305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles572192448
Riverside8155342
San Diego7554269
Orange6574150
San Bernardino5501208
Alameda351597
Santa Clara2819143
San Francisco258743
Kern237639
San Mateo218884
Tulare200489
Fresno188236
Imperial179829
Santa Barbara166912
Contra Costa150637
Sacramento143958
Ventura116434
Kings11375
San Joaquin98235
Stanislaus75029
Monterey57110
Sonoma5664
Solano54622
Marin50115
Merced3017
San Luis Obispo2781
Placer2289
Santa Cruz2172
Yolo21324
Madera1143
Napa1133
Humboldt1023
El Dorado960
San Benito882
Butte511
Sutter462
Del Norte460
Nevada421
Shasta394
Mono371
Mendocino300
Yuba301
Lake260
Inyo201
Glenn170
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Amador100
Siskiyou80
Colusa70
Lassen50
Tehama51
Plumas40
Tuolumne40
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
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