Category Archives: California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Today: What to Know About Newsom’s State of the State

Governor gives televised address from Dodger Stadium, speaks about pandemic, vaccines

New York Times California Today Newsletter, by Jill Cowan, March 10, 2021
Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his State of the State address from Dodger Stadium on Tuesday as his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, listened. Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

On Tuesday evening, Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his third State of the State address, an elaborately produced event in which he portrayed a California emerging from crisis better, stronger and more equal than it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

“In California, we’re not going to come crawling back. We will roar back,” he said, speaking from a stage on the field at Dodger Stadium. “I think we all agree, normal was never good enough.”
Indeed, the pandemic has made clearer than perhaps ever before the longstanding divides in the Golden State.

It has exacerbated inequality between those who can afford to work from home and those who must labor in fields, factories and warehouses. It has ravaged Latino, Black and Asian communities disproportionately.

And the state’s strict, sometimes confusing, lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the virus have provided ample fodder for frustrated conservatives and business owners who are now trying to oust Mr. Newsom from office.

[Read a conversation with Gray Davis, California’s first and only governor to be recalled, about governing in crisis.]

The governor’s prime-time speech from the stadium in Los Angeles — a departure from tradition; the State of the State is usually given midday in Sacramento — was aimed more at rebutting an effort to recall him than a preview of sweeping policy goals.

“We won’t change course just because of a few naysayers and doomsday-ers,” Mr. Newsom said. “So to the California critics, who are promoting partisan power grabs and outdated prejudices, and rejecting everything that makes California great, we say this: We will not be distracted from getting shots in arms and our economy booming again.”

In the speech, the governor sought to remind Californians that he has been at the helm as the state has been pummeled by calamity after calamity — the kind of compounding disasters unseen in decades.

The large screens next to him displayed pictures of the apocalyptic orange sky over the Bay Area as he spoke about the rising threat of wildfires. He emphasized that California’s leaders would continue to be guided by science, “not politics.”

[Track the vaccine rollout and find information about who’s eligible.]

Dodger Stadium has become a kind of symbolic home for the state’s pandemic response, first as a mass testing site, then as a mass vaccination site. Mr. Newsom said that the rows of empty seats behind him as he spoke were a “silent tribute” to the 54,395 Californians who have died because of Covid-19.

“We won’t be defined by this moment,” he said. “We’ll be defined by what we do because of it.”

The governor in particular highlighted campaigns to vaccinate millions of vulnerable residents and to get students back into classrooms.

Experts have said that Mr. Newsom’s political prospects hinge largely on the state’s ability to spur both of those things.

Proponents of the recall have fiercely criticized the fact that many students have been learning from home for a year.

Kevin Faulconer, the Republican former mayor of San Diego who is campaigning to replace Mr. Newsom, said in a video response to the address that the governor has failed to solve problems and has harmed residents in the process.

“He has failed parents in Los Angeles where powerful unions are choosing to keep classrooms closed,” Mr. Faulconer said.

Allies of Mr. Newsom have said that the recall effort is an expensive waste. But they’ve said that the governor has time on his side, as more and more Californians are inoculated and restrictions are eased.

Later on Tuesday evening, Los Angeles schools and teachers’ unions agreed on a plan to reopen schools next month.

Read more:

Rush to reopen California economy is a mistake

The risk is the kind of second-wave surge that killed thousands in the Bay Area during the 1918 Spanish influenza

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he will open up book stores, clothing stores, toy stores and florists for curb-side pickup. (By Area News Group File Photo)
By Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, May 5, 2020

This is no time to go back to business as usual.

The intense longing for a return to normalcy in California and other states is understandable. But the rush to reopen businesses is premature and ignores the warnings of health experts and the basic science of the novel coronavirus.

The risk is the kind of second-wave surge that killed thousands in the Bay Area during the 1918 Spanish influenza. Indeed, a draft government report forecasts sharp increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths nationally beginning around May 14.

Yet Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the next stage in reopening California’s economy will take place Friday. The governor said that he will allow book stores, clothing stores, toy stores, florists and other businesses to reopen for curbside pick-up. Associated manufacturers that support those retail stores will also be allowed to resume production. Some counties in more rural areas will be allowed to decide whether to reopen restaurants that have made accommodations for social-distancing dining.

Newsom’s gamble is similar to one Bay Area county health officials made last week in allowing construction projects to resume. It threatens the lives of workers and their families, neighbors and acquaintances. The economy will eventually bounce back. But lost lives can never be recovered.

The governor said the state was ready to move into “Phase 2” of the reopening process because it is on schedule with six different criteria: stability of hospitalizations, personal protective equipment inventory, health care surge capacity, testing capacity, contact tracing capability and public health guidance in place.

But California’s contact tracing capability is almost non-existent. Its testing capacity is at 25,000 tests per day in a state with a population of nearly 40 million people. That is equal to 62.5 tests per 100,000 people. Estimates by Harvard University researchers indicate that the minimum number of tests should be 152 per 100,000 people, meaning California is only doing 41% percent of the minimum.

It is absolutely essential that store owners and manufacturers follow the state’s new orders to ensure employee and customer safety. The failure to do so could result in a surge of hospitalizations, setting California back months in its recovery.

California isn’t the only state risking opening for business too soon. Governors in nearly a dozen states, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas are going well beyond Newsom’s orders.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp opened up movie theaters Monday after allowing hair salons, massage parlors and bowling alleys to resume business last week. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster told department stores and retailers that they could start allowing shoppers in their businesses. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee allowed restaurants, retail outlets and gyms to reopen last week. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will allow general offices to open next week, along with retail businesses.

The moves threaten the governors’ credibility and residents’ confidence in their leadership.

In California, the decisions on when to open businesses should be based on science — not hope and a prayer.