Governors Are Navigating Uncharted Waters [OPINION]
Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom of California has issued a "stay at home" order for the entire Golden State. In a letter to President Trump, Newsom reportedly estimates that more than half of the state, which includes 25.5 million people, will contract the coronavirus over the next two months. Breitbart says Newsom is asking Trump to dispatch the USNS Mercy hospital ship to the Port of Los Angeles to assist with expected cases.
In announcing the order, Newsom said more needs to be done to force social distancing.
“We need to bend the curve in the state of California,” Newsom said. “There’s a social contract here. People, I think, recognize the need to do more. They will adjust and adapt as they have.”
“Home isolation is not my preferred choice … but it is a necessary one,” Newsom added. “This is not a permanent state; it is a moment in time.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) told Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity that the statewide shut down might be an overreaction. McCarthy is concerned about the impact of a shutdown on California's pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, both of which are playing a critical role in the war against COVID-19.
Bringing California to a crawl is certainly a drastic step. It's a decision that is not made without careful consideration based on the best information about controlling the virus from state and national health officials. It's a tough call. I am not prepared to second guess Newsom here. He is on the ground and is charged with acting in the best interest of all of his citizens, something the governor has taken heat for not adequately doing in the past.
On the other hand, Massachusetts is a very different place than California with very different needs and a very different set of challenges. I do not think it would be necessary for Governor Charlie Baker to order residents to shelter in place, and so far, there is no indication that such an order is imminent.
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida gets the Bonehead of the Year award for not issuing an order banning spring break activities in his state. DeSantis must now attempt to fix the problem but how he does that without dispursing potentially infected, equally boneheaded students all across the country without threatening the greater population is anybody's guess.
These are uncharted waters we are navigating and in California, at least, Newsom is the skipper. The stay-at-home order is his call. Let's hope it is the right one.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.