LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Governors. Gavin Newsom with his State of the Union speech – 56,000 seats is almost exactly the number of Californians killed by COVID-19.
And I’m speaking to you from Dodger Stadium – which has changed from the home of last year’s World Series champions to America’s mass vaccination center, Newsome said. Instead of fans in the stands, we see nurses in [personal protective equipment] saving lives, one shot at a time, all because a year ago a unique pandemic hit our shores.
COWID was no one’s fault, but it quickly became a burden on everyone, forcing hard-working Californians to go to work and risk contracting it, or stay home and lose their jobs, he continued.
Newsom said Tuesday that 54,395 Californians have died from COVID-19 – a figure that gives the state one of the lowest per capita death rates in the country. But he also acknowledged that people of color die much faster.
When this pandemic is over, and it won’t be long, we won’t return to normal, he said. I think we can all agree that normal was never good enough. Normality accepts injustice. This is why Hispanics die faster from COVIDS than any other racial or ethnic group.
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As for revitalizing the state’s economy, Newsom said businesses are getting more stimulus money, families are getting more help and schools are about to be revitalized.
Every day, more and more schools are announcing their reopening, he said. Nearly 7,000 schools are now open or planning to reopen in mid-April for full-time classes.
The speech came just days after the state announced it was easing restrictions allowing fans to attend baseball games for the first time in a year, but in very limited numbers.
Mr Newsom highlighted the work being done to combat the pandemic, including by health workers, mothers, farm workers, children and others particularly affected by the virus.
Their quiet courage created light, he said. And in the darkest of times, you know, Dr. King once said: Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars.
Newsom’s call also came as his political opponents claimed to have the signatures needed for a runoff election, although those signatures have yet to be verified. And while the governor did not explicitly mention the recall, he did address California’s critics.
So to California’s critics who exercise partisan power, rely on outdated prejudices and reject everything that makes California great, we say this: we will not be distracted by the shootings and our economy will rebound, he said.
And while homelessness was not the main focus of this year’s speech, Newsom drew attention to Project Roomkey and the state program to convert old hotels and other existing structures into supportive housing for the homeless. He also reiterated his government’s commitment to addressing the worsening homelessness crisis in the state.
We remind ourselves that these tent cities on our sidewalks, these encampments, along our highways are simply unacceptable, he said. So our task for the future is clear: We must continue our immediate progress while focusing on our long-term goals.
Seated in a very small room was one of Newsom’s staunchest allies, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He said the governor did what he had to do in his speech.
At a time when we need to stop a pandemic, when we need to overcome an economic downturn, the last thing we need is $100 million in politics in the next election, he said. Don’t we have enough?
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After the speech, Republicans from California criticized the speech.
My choice is this: California under Newsom is no longer the Golden State, said Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita. He has absolutely no plan to put our kids back in school, he has no plan to improve ESD, and he has no plan to vaccinate our people.
But Jessica Levinson, a professor and political scientist at Loyola Law School, said the effort to recall the school will likely depend on the introduction of the vaccine in the state and plans to reopen the school.
I don’t think this speech will be the end of the recall campaign, she said. What we saw tonight was a governor who seemed either nervous or defensive. It seemed that, without saying a word, he deserved to be governor.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. City News Service contributed to this report).