After an arduous pandemic year, Gov. Gavin Newsom presented his third State of the State address from an empty Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Tuesday evening, reflecting on the pandemic’s effect in California and relaying government actions over the past year.
Surrounded by 56,000 empty seats, Gov. Newsom paid homage to the 54,395 Californias who died from COVID-19, noting that the empty seats marked “a silent tribute to loved ones who live forever in our memories.”
“(COVID-19) made the unthinkable, commonplace,” Gov. Newsom said during the address. “COVID patients cared for by doctors, nurses and paramedics who, despite the chaos and risks to themselves, paused to hold the hands of strangers in their final moments. Too many forever goodbyes over FaceTime.”
The majority of the governor’s address focused on actions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the development of the state’s testing protocols and robust vaccine distribution, which Gov. Newsom said ranked sixth in the world, beating out countries like Israel, Russia, Germany and France. He also noted that California recently surpassed 11 million vaccine doses allocated, a benchmark putting the state 3 million doses ahead of any other state.
Over the course of the pandemic, Gov. Newsom’s response has been criticized by his political opponents and California proponents of a recall effort.
Recall proponents aim to collect 2 million signatures that would force a state-wide vote regarding his status as governor. If enough signatures are collected and verified by county officials, state voters will be asked to vote yes or no on whether Gov. Newsom should remain in office.
Despite this opposition, Gov. Newsom defended his pandemic leadership, noting that he plans to stay the course while admitting to “mistakes” along the way.
“We won’t change course just because of a few nay-sayers and dooms-dayers,” Gov. Newsom said Tuesday. “So to the California critics, who are promoting partisan power grabs and outdated prejudices, and rejecting everything that makes California great, we say this: we will not be distracted from getting shots in arms and our economy booming again. This is a fight for California’s future.”
Gov. Newsom’s address also noted recent legislation that allocated $7.6 billion back to small business owners and Californians who qualified for the Golden State Stimulus. He also mentioned last week’s decision to denote $6.6 billion to California’s school reopenings, which he said has turned the conversation “from whether to reopen, to when.”
As the pandemic highlighted inequities in a range of societal realms, such as health care and education, Gov. Newsom addressed plans to charge forward with an equitable vaccine roll out targeted at vulnerable communities, including California’s Latino population who have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
With vaccine distribution putting hope in the hearts of Californians, Gov. Newsom pledged lasting change as the state “roars back” after the pandemic ends.
“When this pandemic ends — and it will end soon — we’re not going back to normal,” Gov. Newsom said. “Normal was never good enough. Normal accepts inequity.”