Newsom will call off COVID state of emergency next year
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he plans to take action in February to end the COVID-19 state of emergency in California that he initially declared in 2020.
The governor declared the state of emergency in the early days of the pandemic in order to waive state regulations and statutes and to redirect funds to rapidly respond to the public health crisis. Republicans have criticized Newsom’s decision to keep the declaration in place for so long, calling it an unnecessary abuse of his executive powers.
“The State of Emergency was an effective and necessary tool that we utilized to protect our state, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without it,” Newsom said in a statement. “With the operational preparedness that we’ve built up and the measures that we’ll continue to employ moving forward, California is ready to phase out this tool.”
Newsom’s office said the dramatic decline in deaths and hospitalizations over time has given him confidence to call off the COVID-19 state of emergency on Feb. 28, three years after he made the declaration. The timeline should give the healthcare system flexibility to respond to any winter surges of the virus as a result of more indoor gatherings over the holidays, his office said.
The March 4, 2020, state of emergency declaration served as a prelude to more than 70 executive orders to scale up testing and vaccinations, pause evictions and expand the scope of practice for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsom terminated many of those executive orders over time, but previously argued that keeping the state of emergency in place was crucial to the state’s response. His office said Monday that Newsom will ask the California Legislature to pass laws that continue to allow nurses to dispense COVID-19 therapeutics and allow lab workers to solely process COVID-19 tests.
Under the 1970 California Emergency Services Act, the governor has broad authority to respond during a state of emergency such as a pandemic. The governor can make, amend and rescind state regulations and suspend state statutes, and has the power to redirect state funds to help in an emergency — even funds appropriated by the Legislature for an entirely different purpose. The governor also has the authority to commandeer private property, including hospitals, medical labs, hotels and motels.
Times staff writer Phil Willon contributed to this report.
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