Letters to the Editor: Newsom’s O.C. beach closure isn’t an abuse of power. It’s science-based leadership

Beach protest
Protesters converge on Huntington Beach on May 1 to express opposition to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order closing all Orange County beaches.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Pandemics require leadership informed by medical expertise, not nostalgia, personal preference, speculative legal arguments and pseudo-medical claims, such as Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner’s belief that keeping beaches open somehow more than compensates for the risk of dying from respiratory failure. (“After so many sacrifices, some Californians draw the line at closing beaches,” May 1)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s temporary closure of Orange County beaches is a medically based judgment designed to protect residents from a potentially fatal illness. It is not baseless speculation that the lack of physical distancing associated with a day at the beach (including the nearby crowded sidewalks and bathrooms) puts people at risk. It follows from a century of experience with influenza, SARS, MERS, Ebola and more.

Protestors, in contrast, elevate personal preference to public policy and dismiss medical science in favor of magical thinking. This is antigovernment bias and the misguided opinions of a minority dangerously masquerading as a civil rights movement.

Gary Stewart, M.D., Laguna Beach



To the editor: As a regular beach-goer in Ventura County, I can attest to the success of our recent weekend on the sand. People were on their best behavior, walking on the water’s edge, swimming and surfing. Police were enforcing social distancing rules. Our leaders reduced the amount of parking available, which thinned out the crowds on the sand.

I do not support Newsom’s closure of all beaches in Orange County. The public needs a healthy outlet from being in their homes day and night. The beach can provide a wonderful, low-cost experience for families.

I suggest Newsom open all the beaches, but instruct local officials to limit parking. This approach could fairly accommodate the public’s wishes while minimizing the chance that infections will increase. Beach-goers would be more evenly spread among all local beaches instead of concentrated at a few.

I hope Newsom rethinks his position.

Jack McGrath, Port Hueneme


To the editor: The first rule for good parents is to keep their children safe — even if the children yell and scream.


I live at the beach. Standing on a bluff, I literally could see the mass of folks. Far too many were not practicing social distancing. Beer cans and litter abounded.

The selfish actions of a few who ignore the health of others result in harm to us all. Newsom is right, even if the kids don’t like it.

Eileen Elvins, Dana Point