Critics point to continuing recall effort as the chief factor in the governor’s timing.
On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted all regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders across the state, a change that could allow restaurants and businesses in many counties to reopen outdoor dining and other services.
All counties will return to the colored tier system that assigns local risk levels based on case numbers and rates of positive test results for coronavirus infections.
Most areas will be classified under the “widespread” risk tier, which permits hair salons to offer limited services indoors but restricts many other nonessential indoor business operations.
“Today, we can lay claim to starting to see some real light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to case numbers,” Newsom said at a Monday news conference. “Each region’s a little bit different, but we are in a position projecting four weeks forward with a significant decline in the case rates, positivity rates. We are anticipating…still more decline in hospitalizations and more declines in ICU, and that’s why we’re lifting that stay at home effective immediately today.”
The timing is lucky for me: I have an appointment for a manicure tomorrow, which I desperately need.
Yet, there may be more to the timing than a drop in positive cases or hospitalizations. I noted that there had been a surge in signatures on the statewide petition to recall Newsom, and with 1.2 million signers already, a mere 300,000 more are needed to hit the 1.5 million required.
Critics suggest that the cancellation of the strict lockdown rules is a further sign that Team Newsom is worried.
Republicans said Newsom was easing the rules as the recall campaign nears the required threshold to qualify for a statewide ballot. Organizers have until mid-March to gather 1.5 million signatures to force a recall against Newsom, who is halfway through his first term.
“This Governor’s decisions have never been based on science. Him re-opening our state is not an attempt to help working Californians, but rather an attempt to counter the Recall Movement. It’s sad and pathetic,” California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson tweeted.
State officials said the decision to lift the stay-at-home order came amid improving trends in California’s rate of infections, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit capacity as well as vaccinations. But Newsom’s administration has not made the data public. Health officials have said making it public would confuse and potentially mislead the public.
Whatever the rationale, one can certainly question that the decision was based on the number:
California closes outdoor dining (left), California reopens outdoor dining (right). [Obama shrugging confused gif here] pic.twitter.com/RXUAEUgSzS
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) January 25, 2021
It is interesting to note that some Big Tech executives who once supported Newsom are now funding the recall effort.
…David Sacks, a prominent tech executive, donated about $60,000 when Newsom first ran for governor a few years ago. Now he’s supporting a recall, and his wife, Jacqueline, contributed $25,000 to the recall effort last week. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and a major Democratic donor, has said publicly that he is a supporter of the effort, although the billionaire has yet to make a donation to it.
The other tech leaders, though, rank among the biggest overall donors to the recall effort, which has raised about $1.5 million to date. That could all presage real money in a recall campaign that would likely cost more than $100 million in total.
“Certainly they wouldn’t be upset to have some buy-in from Silicon Valley, but I don’t know if I’d say that their involvement would be ‘crucial’ during this initial qualifying stage,” said Rob Pyers, research director for California Target Book, which analyzes money in California politics. “Once it’s at that point, then just by virtue of their deep pockets, Silicon Valley becomes an important player.”
The moves come as some leading tech industry figures — especially those with a conservative bent — are rebelling against a tax system, Covid-related policies, and a broader culture that they see as repressive.
In conclusion, that meal at the French Laundry may be the most expensive meal Newsom has ever had….it may cost him his future political career.
— Ben Fritz (@benfritz) January 25, 2021
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