- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2023

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has officially ended the state of emergency around COVID-19 in his state nearly three years after he established urgent measures due to the onset of the virus in early 2020.

Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, had signaled he would end the emergency while forceful rules, including mask mandates, have gone away, making the move a largely symbolic ending of the pandemic era.

The governor said California stockpiled masks and tests and improved its wastewater surveillance as part of a pivot from emergency powers to his SMARTER Plan, which prepares for a potential resurgence in the virus.

“California is better prepared and that’s because we have a serious Legislature and health ecosystem in California that is second to none in the country,” he said.

Mr. Newsom is ending the state emergency more than two months before President Biden ends his federal emergency declaration. The White House said hospitals, Medicaid administrators and others need until early May to unwind the rules even as GOP lawmakers passed bills to end it immediately.

State emergency powers gave Mr. Newsom wide latitude to address the COVID-19 crisis by shifting funds or even commandeering certain property to deal with the virus.

Mr. Newsom’s willingness to impose rules made him one of the main faces of what critics viewed as liberal overreach during the pandemic.

California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order in early March 2020. The idea caught on across the country, but many Americans wondered about the economic and social consequences, given clear evidence the virus wasn’t going away.

Mr. Newsom also caused a firestorm by attending a dinner for a top political adviser in November 2020 at the French Laundry, an exclusive restaurant, while he was urging Californians to avoid gatherings for the upcoming holidays.

Today, the governor says his state is better prepared for COVID-19 hiccups while criticizing overall efforts around the country.

“I’m not sure the nation is better prepared based on some of the amnesia that’s been developed,” he said. “This backlash on vaccines and masks and everything, but that’s another conversation for another day, but California is better prepared.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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