There’s no circumventing circumstance: California is in the wrong place, and things are likely to get worse before they get better.
The state’s intensive care units could be overwhelmed by mid-December, and its hospitals could be dangerously close to a full house at Christmas, according to sober forecasts by Prime Minister Gavin Newsom on Monday.
And the load could be even worse in the most severely affected areas, such as the San Joaquin Valley, which is projected to reach 83 percent of its hospital capacity by December 24th.
“If these trends continue, California will need to take drastic steps,” Mr Newsom said in a briefing, adding that stricter restrictions could come into effect over the next few days, including ordering a full stay at home.
[Track coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in California.]
99 percent of California residents are already under a curfew for counties with the state’s most restrictive level of purple reopening. And other counties went even further. Los Angeles County closed outdoor dining, while a temporary ban on Santa Clara County due to contact sports prompted the San Francisco 49ers to move their next two games to the Arizona Cardinals home.
California is just one of the states that seemed to have gained control of the virus so it could spread quickly throughout the fall. According to the New York Times database, Sunday became the first state to record more than 100,000 cases in a week.
[Read more about how the pandemic has upended football.]
The Covid-19 modeling team at the University of Arizona recently asked the state of Arizona to take steps to stop hospital care or “risk a catastrophe to the extent of the most severe natural disaster the state has ever experienced.”
In New York, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said the state will take a series of emergency measures as it faces a new “nightmare of flooded hospitals”.
Officials spent the weekend talking to local leaders and health care providers about their concerns, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services.
“Everything is on the table, in terms of how we run the state through it,” he said. “And we want to make sure what we’re doing is effective and as limited as possible.”
[Get caught up on the latest California restrictions here.]
But unlike the early stages of the pandemic, when only a few states bore the brunt, the wave of cases affecting the entire country limited the likelihood of help from the federal government or other states, the governor said.
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States exceeded four million in November, more than double the October record.
In contrast, after three weeks of closure in England, the number of new cases fell by 30 per cent, according to new data.
[Build your own Covid dashboard to keep an eye on cases in places that are important to you.]
Mr. Newsom stressed that California will be able to build on the efforts the state began earlier this year, including a record of retired or part-time health workers who would be willing to return to work. Eleven overworked healthcare facilities can quickly prepare to receive patients.
“We don’t expect that,” he said, referring to it the alarm hospital data. “I want people to know that we want to bend this proverbial curve.”
The governor again implemented a long list of measures that he said the state received financial assistance to residents and businesses in difficulty.
And he added that vaccinations may be available as early as the middle of the month for some front-line healthcare workers.
But he asked the federal government to send further relief.
“Congress needs to act urgently,” he said.
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What is at stake in the Senate election
One question remains in the background as the California people move in the latest Covid wave: Who will Mr. Newsom choose to replace Senate-elected Vice President Kamala Harris?
My colleagues and I have reported that Foreign Minister Alex Padilla remains a widely recognized leader. But the election is complete for the governor, who must balance competing, growing public pressure.
[Read the full story.]
I spoke to Sonja Diaz, the founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles, about why she called on the governor to select the first Latin senator from a state that is 40% Latin. .
The stake, he told me, is not just to represent the masses and the growing electorate. Choosing a Latin title for one of the country’s strongest positions would be the first step in reversing decades that California politicians have described as “intentional neglect”.
“The election of Biden and Harris opens a new era,” she said. “But he doesn’t deny that the seat of elected Vice President Harris never sent a Latino to the Senate.”
He was last a Spanish governor in California in 1875, when Lieutenant Governor Romualdo Pacheco held the remainder of another governor’s term.
[Read an interview with Robert Garcia, Long Beach’s mayor and a recently emerged contender.]
Ms. Diaz said that as America’s white population ages and demands the services of people who are more often colored workers, it is essential to have leaders who will fight for policies that ensure workers have equal access to resources such as education and training. health care.
This will be especially true after the pandemic, which has caused too much damage to Latin workers and communities, he said.
In other words, “More Americans depend on a workforce they are unwilling to invest in,” he said.
Ms. Diaz noted that the major political parties actually sought out Latinos from other states and made a profit. He cited the struggle of Cuban-American leaders in Florida as an example.
[Read more about how Hispanic voters swung Miami right in the presidential election.]
Ms Diaz, on the other hand, said California power mediators, Democrats and Republicans alike, had consistently failed to elevate Latinos like Cruz Bustamante. State voters also supported anti-immigration policies, such as proposal 187, to which both the mobilization of Latin political activism is attributed and are responsible for drawing up the nativist agenda of other states.
“If we’re being honest with ourselves, California has a role to play in the invisibility of Latinos,” he said.
Ms. Diaz said California needs to move forward in its leadership role in changing the tide. The governor, he said, has the option of choosing a huge “Latin figure” who can help grow the bench for Latin leaders across the country.
[Read more about the Senate vacancy and what it says about California.]
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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and reported across the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield, and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow here or further Twitter.
California Today was edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.