Governor Gavin Newsom today extended for the third time the state of emergency in California related to the threat that Covid poses. Today’s executive order stretches declaration through March 31, 2022, at which time it will have been in effect for more than two years.
Newsom first declared the state of emergency on March 2, 2020, just hours after the Golden State saw its first death from what was then referred to as the coronavirus. Newsom cited “heightened anxiety” and the 53 new cases in the state. Now, 20 months later, conditions have changed dramatically.
California reported 3,716 new cases on Wednesday and 134 new deaths. The governor, using a line straight out of Game of Thrones, warned residents that what’s old might be new again.
“Winter is coming. Winter is here,” Newsom said, noting of the “seasonality” of Covid-19 as more people gather inside. “And as we are want to be reminded and should be reminded, last year we had a challenging winter, particularly down here in Southern California. We started to see around this time last year case rates, positivity rates, hospitalization rates, ICU numbers start to increase. We’re starting to see that now all across the globe. We’ve seen those trends, not dissimilar to last year.”
The governor pointed out that cases have begun to rise again in places like Riverside and San Bernardino (not to mention Los Angeles, where daily new infections were about 700-1,000 per day a week ago and rose to 1,497 today). He also pointed out that “last year we didn’t have much of a flu season. This year, I just want to remind people, that we want to avoid the Twindemic.”
Indeed, Los Angeles County confirmed the first flu-related death of the 2021-22 influenza season today. According to the L.A. Department of Public Health, the patient was not vaccinated against the flu and tested negative for Covid multiple times while sick.
All along, Newsom has asserted the emergency order opens up access to goods and emergency services for the state and health authorities. “It’s about resourcefulness,” he said in 2020. “It’s about our ability to add tools to the tool kit.”
He reminded listeners today that hospitals had to implement emergency measures last year, some of which were enabled by the state order, as bed capacities were stretched thin and morgues ran out of space and body bags.