Coronavirus in California: State Could Take ‘Drastic Action’

Coronavirus in California: State Could Take ‘Drastic Action’

Good morning.

There’s no way around it: California is in a bad spot, and things are likely to get worse before they get better.

The state’s intensive care units could be overloaded by the middle of December, and its hospitals could be dangerously close to full by Christmas, according to sobering projections Gov. Gavin Newsom presented on Monday.

And the strain could be even worse in the hardest-hit areas, like the San Joaquin Valley, which was projected to reach 83 percent of its hospital capacity by Dec. 24.

“If these trends continue, California will need to take drastic action,” Mr. Newsom said in a briefing, adding that more severe restrictions, including full stay-at-home orders, could come within the next couple of days.

One question that continues to loom in the background as Californians navigate the latest Covid surge: Whom will Mr. Newsom choose to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate?

My colleagues and I reported that Secretary of State Alex Padilla is still the widely recognized front-runner. But the choice is fraught for the governor, who must balance competing, increasingly public pressures.

[Read the full story.]

I spoke to Sonja Diaz, who is founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles, about why she and others have called on the governor to choose the first Latino senator from a state that is 40 percent Latino.

What’s at stake, she told me, is not just representation of a massive and growing electorate. Choosing a Latino for one of the nation’s most powerful posts would be a first step in reversing decades of what she described as “willful neglect” by California’s politicians.

“The election of Biden and Harris ushers in a new era,” she said, “but it doesn’t negate that the home state of Vice President-elect Harris has never sent a Latino to the Senate.”

The last time California had a Hispanic governor was 1875, when Lt. Gov. Romualdo Pacheco served the remainder of another governor’s term.

[Read an interview with Robert Garcia, Long Beach’s mayor and a recently emerged contender.]

Now, Ms. Diaz said, as America’s white population ages and requires the services of people who are more often workers of color, it is imperative to have leaders who will fight for policies that will ensure those workers have equitable access to resources like education and health care.

That will be especially true after the pandemic, which has taken an outsize toll on Latino workers and communities, she said.


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