Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses a report detailing the efforts by the DMV to improve customer services during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Some of the suggestions are to accept credit cards, upgrade the DMV’s website and offer clearer instructions on how to obtain a new federally mandated ID. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
California Governor Gavin Newsom stated that he is ready to impose martial law in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus if the situation worsens. In a press conference on Tuesday, he indicated that the state’s government is considering a variety of options to deal with the pandemic.
“We have the ability to do martial law … if we feel the necessity,” Newsom said. This action would essentially create a temporary military state in which the law would be suspended, and the military would control the population. Fox 5 reported that the governor “has already placed the California National Guard on alert for humanitarian duties, including food distribution and public safety activities.”
The governor also gave an update on the status of the state’s schools. He explained that “few if any,” will reopen before the summer break. Newsom encouraged Californians to stay united, and said that “we will get back to the life that we have lived.”
According to the governor, the state is acquiring two empty hospitals to accommodate sharp increases in the number of patients infect with the virus. They are also working with about 900 hotels to house hospital patients and the homeless, who are particularly vulnerable to catching the illness.
“So we had a very candid and a sober if not sobering conversation about where we may be and where we need to go together,” he said, following a meeting with the leadership of the hospitals. “The good news is none of it surprised any of us. We as a state, working with our system, anticipated much of these needs and have been running plans to address them.”
As the rate of infections increased, Newsom advised schools in communities with coronavirus cases to temporarily shut down. He has also asked event organizers to cancel or postpone large gatherings. I did not order the closure of bars and restaurants, but he did urge them to shutter their operations until the threat passes.
So far, Newsom has taken a different approach to dealing with the virus than his counterparts in other states. On Sunday, he told reporters that “We’re not some small isolated state. We’re a nation-state. Santa Clara County’s conditions are extraordinarily different than Tulare.” He explained that the size of the Golden State makes it necessary to take a slightly different approach.
Last week, Newsom, who has been openly critical of the Trump administration, praised the president and his team for their response to the pandemic and their support for California. He said:
“We had a private conversation, but [Trump] said, ‘We’re gonna do the right thing, and you have my support, all of our support, logistically and otherwise.’ So before he made those statements publicly, I had a private conversation with him around 4:30 West Coast time. And he said everything that I could have hoped for. And we had a very long conversation and every single thing he said, they followed through on.”
It does not seem that California’s government will resort to martial law anytime soon, but such a move is clearly on the table. With the coronavirus outbreak still in its infancy stages, it’s not unrealistic to think that Newsom might make such a declaration.
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