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So Why Was Gov. Newsom Missing For Two Weeks?

STATE GOV - Gov. Gavin Newsom broke his nearly two-week silence on Tuesday to make two key points: California is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases that could signal the start of a worrisome winter surge, and California’s economy “continues to dominate” the rest of the country’s. 

Newsom made the remarks at the California Economic Summit in Monterey, his first public appearance since receiving a COVID booster shot on Oct. 27. In a conversation with his former chief economic and business advisor Lenny Mendonca — who stepped down in April 2020 to focus on his mental health — Newsom finally explained the unspecified “family obligations” that led him to abruptly cancel a planned trip to the United Nations climate change conferencein Scotland: 

  • Newsom: “I was ready to go, and I had that dinner … with the family, and the kids literally, they kind of had an intervention, they said they couldn’t believe that I was going to miss Halloween. I woke up that next morning with something probably familiar to a lot of parents — that knot in your stomach — that I had no damn choice. I had to cancel that trip.” 

Newsom also warned that “winter is coming” and echoed top state health officials in urging Californians to get vaccinated or receive their booster shotsto prevent a possible surge in COVID cases. He noted that COVID hospitalizations are rising in some parts of California — in Riverside, San Bernardino and Fresno counties, they’ve increased by more than 20% in recent weeks — and positive cases are once again trending upward. (One group that may be particularly at risk: Californians who speak Indigenous languages and have limited access to vaccine information, CalMatters’ Hannah Getahun reports.) 

  • Newsom: “Last week, we literally were planning out our winter surge strategy, pre-positioning assets in anticipation of what’s going to happen in the next few weeks. … I don’t want to tell you that because I don’t want it to be true, but the data bears it out.” 

Meanwhile, the governor shot back at people “obsessed … with trying to trip California up and to identify areas of weakness when we still dominate” economically. 

  • Newsom: “California has no peers. … Number one in innovation, number one in business startups. … Fastest growing companies. The most influential companies in the world. … No state in America has created more jobs since January than the state of California. We’re the tentpole of the American economic recovery.”

Yet Newsom’s assertions were somewhat undercut by a series of Tuesday events illuminating economic inequality. First, fast food workers across California held a strike to call for better health and safety standards and higher wages, while members of a California State University faculty union rallied to demand a fair contract

Then, the Public Policy Institute of California released a poll that found 52% of Californians expect bad economic times in the next 12 months, 69% believe the gap between rich and poor is widening in their region and 63% say children in California will be worse off in the future than they are now. 

 

(Emily Hoeven writes the daily WhatMatters newsletter for CalMatters. Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco Business Times, the Flathead Beacon, the Daily Pennsylvanian, and the Mercury News.)