Op-Ed: New COVID strains are coming. It’s no time to let down our guard.
As states like New York, California, and Florida struggle to contain the unprecedented spread of coronavirus, here’s one that may become a distant memory: the Great California Fiasco of 2018–19.
A month before my visit, Californians awoke to news of a “public health emergency” declared by the governor of the nation’s second-largest economy. Despite the fact that the state was not only experiencing a historic outbreak — including a near-epidemic of new COVID-19 cases — but also an ongoing spike in unemployment, a $20 billion bond, and state finances already in the red, Governor Gavin Newsom immediately sought to blame the “public health emergency” on the “media” and “the president,” and even announced that he would order the closing of the state’s beaches, hotels, and casinos.
The following day, the governor was asked to explain his decision to close the beaches by the California legislature. Instead of answering or even praising his constituents for electing him, he announced that his staff had reached out to the White House and sought a waiver from the president’s travel ban, which would force residents of New York, New Jersey, and Washington, DC to leave the country. Newsom also announced that, in the coming days, all nonessential businesses must close, public transportation be canceled, the state be disinfected, and the remaining beaches be sanitized, but that “none of these things [has] anything to do with the president telling us to close the beaches.”
Newsom was reportedly a fan of the president’s travel ban when he campaigned for office, and the fact that he’s continued to support Trump on the issues of health and national security is a good-news story. But this was far from the first time that Newsom has played a partisan game like that. Indeed, he has been doing it long before his coronavirus pandemic declaration.
His first big