Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentiment and rhetoric, in California’s desperate crisis.
On June 23, 2018, at a time of high public and media concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave a press conference to announce the release of a proposed health care plan for the Golden State. The governor stressed that his plan would give Californians “a chance to plan for decades to come.” On March 26, Newsom announced the death toll in California at 28, and on April 21, he told the country, during a news conference at the state Capitol, that California had reached 5.3 million COVID-19 cases, and that the death toll would be in the single-digit millions.
Yet the proposed plan would extend the state’s emergency declaration for 18 more months, and its cost to the state would exceed the projected cost of building 30,000 masks for health care workers. Newsom was also vague about the program. It included no details about how or when the state would take over health care services, or who would assume responsibility for those services. The governor said that his plan would give “our communities the opportunity to become stronger, safer, and more resilient against the ravages of the virus.” Yet the governor offered no details about what would replace the current system of health care, or how he would ensure that those communities can take on the responsibilities of health care workers without leaving them at the mercy of the virus’s ravages. Newsom’s plan was also silent about the role that the federal government will play in providing direct assistance to the state, and he did not address how he would avoid a crisis in the state’s medical care system. On May 25, Newsom told a group of journalists in Sacramento that his plan would be “a framework” that the governor says will “address the immediate challenges we face”: “It will be a model for the long-term care that many in our state are working hard to build.”
Newsom’s proposed plan is not a model for a healthier and saner California, for its communities of color, for young people, for the elderly, or for immigrant communities. On May 8, the state’s independent