California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest shutdown order met with an outcry from Republican lawmakers, who insisted there was “no justification” for Monday’s executive order.
In a statement, four congressmen and state legislators representing Northern California said that it was important to “act responsibly in order to suppress the virus and protect our community,” but that business and church reopenings were not to blame for the recent surge in cases.
“There is no justification for this approach. There is no evidence that any of these activities are causing an increase in Covid-19 cases,” said the Monday letter headed by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, California Republican.
The Democrat Newsom ordered the closures of indoor businesses statewide, including restaurants, bars, museums, movie theaters and zoos, while the 30 counties on the COVID-19 monitoring list must also shutter gyms, churches, offices for non-critical sectors, hair salons, indoor malls and protests.
Those counties represent 80% of the state’s population and include all the counties along the state’s southern border, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino and Imperial, but not the state’s northernmost counties.
“As a consequence of an increase in positivity rate, increase in hospitalizations and ICUs, based upon the predicate, this foundation that we laid of utilizing a dimmer switch, today we are announcing additional statewide actions as relates to our stay-at-home order,” Mr. Newsom said.
The Northern California lawmakers pointed out that 7.5 million residents were still without jobs, and that the state has yet to process some unemployment benefit claims filed in March.
“Restaurants and churches are not the source of our increase in cases,” said the letter. “Small businesses are hanging by a thread and this action puts all the burden of this crisis back upon them. Main Street is struggling for its very life, while Lowe’s and Home Depot are packed with people and having record years. No one can make any sense of these confusing orders.”
California is among the Sun Belt states grappling with a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the Golden State reporting 109,910 cases in the last 14 days, or 273.9 cases per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, the death rate has remained relatively steady, with 1,014 deaths, or 2.8 per 100,000, in the last 14 days.
The state reported Monday a 2.6% increase in cases, with a 0.3% increase in the death rate.
The Republicans said that the shutdown order punishes businesses that have “done everything they’ve been asked to do.”
“Businesses have NOT been the direct cause, they’ve done everything they’ve been asked to do successfully,” the letter said. “These shutdown orders punish them, their customers and it completely misses the target, especially in our rural towns.”
The legislators on the letter were state Sens. Jim Nielsen and Brian Dahle; Assemblyman James Gallagher; and Assemblywoman Megan Dahle.
“We have said it before: human lives are at stake. People are stressed and filled with anxiety about their livelihoods,” they said. “The mental health and other side effects of today’s decision will be felt for years into the future.”