Category Archives: California Gov. Gavin Newsom

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.

COVID-19 – Restaurants may soon apply for funds to provide meals to homebound seniors

[For details see Governor Newsom’s press release on Initiatives to Support Older Californians During COVID-19 Pandemic.  – R.S.]

Plan to feed California seniors during pandemic first of its kind in the nation

KTVU Fox2 News, by Jana Katsuyama, April 25, 2020

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new program Friday that would use state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to help restaurants begin cooking and delivering meals to home-bound seniors at risk for COVID-19, but who might not be eligible for home meal deliveries under regular nutrition program guidelines.

The idea is to help seniors and get the struggling restaurant industry back in business and preference would be given to independent restaurants.

“For restaurants to start rehiring people or keep people currently employed and start preparing meals, 3 meals a day 7 days a week and have them delivered to seniors,” said Gov. Newsom.

Home-style meals are take home only at Vic’s Restaurant in Martinez, and Rose Anne Meyers says her family-run business has been struggling.

“Our employees, we have very few at the moment, but the few we do have they need it for their families,” said Meyers.

The state and FEMA funds would pay about $66 a day for three meals.

Restaurant owners like the idea, but say they’d need to read the fine print.

“When you deliver food, there’s additional cost than just the food. You have the delivery, the gas,” said Meyers.

Businesses hungry for details on how to apply, will have to wait though. The state says local jurisdictions will handle the roll-out, with a focus on independent restaurants.

The governor’s announcement caught some counties off guard, however, without guidance from the state on the program details and which restaurants qualify or how they’ll be selected.

“It definitely could help our budget in some of the senior programs that we’ve rolled out. So it all depends on what the Governor has laid out in who qualifies for the program,” said Tim McGallian, Mayor of Concord.

Mayor McGallian already helped launch a meals program for seniors over 60 who don’t qualify for standard nutrition programs. He says the new program could help pick up some of the costs which Concord has been paying.

The public funding however would go to private businesses, whereas the Concord program is keeping the public school districts’ food service workers employed with meal deliveries at a much lower cost using Meals on Wheels.

“On a normal basis, our meals cost about $7 per meal. Right now we have a partnership with Mt. Diablo Unified school district and Concord. Those meals are about 2.50 each,” said Caitlin Sly, Meals on Wheels Diablo Region’s Executive Director.

Sly says there is a huge need and she’s glad the Governor is taking action, but hopes non-profits who have been working to meet demand will get some relief soon too.

“We here at Meals on Wheels Diablo Region have increased our home delivered meals program by over 35% since the onset of this outbreak,” said Sly.

San Francisco’s Shireen McSpadden, Executive Director of the Human Services Department of Disability and Aging Services, says the program could help 40-50,000 seniors in the city who are not eligible for CalFresh or regular home meal programs. Statewide, it could help millions of seniors.

Local officials say keep an eye out for more details in the coming weeks.

They note these are emergency funds tied to the COVID-19 crisis so it likely will only be available while the stay at home orders are in place.