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Opinion: Meet post-June 15 California, which feels a lot like pre-June 15 California

People stroll along the Huntington Beach pier on June 15, the day most of California's COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
(Los Angeles Times)

When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced back in April that nearly all pandemic restrictions could end in months, surely some of us had visions of fireworks and street celebrations on the stroke of midnight June 15, as if the sudden removal of these rules would release an outpouring of pent-up jubilation.

It hasn’t been that exactly. Since Tuesday, when the state’s rules expired, The Times has published stories on consumer habits that will carry over long after June 15 and the uneasy feelings with which some have resumed “normal” activities, and an editorial assuring readers that it’s still OK for vaccinated people to wear masks in the absence of a mandate to do so.

The letters from our readers this week suggest similarly cautious attitudes. Their letters since June 15 are a lot like their letters from before June 15 — they’re still debating the limits of government power to protect people during a pandemic, weighing the risks of undertaking what were once everyday activities, and mourning the COVID dead.

Pre-June 15 and post-June 15 may be seen one day as distinct eras, but right now the difference between the two is just a few days. It may be a while before feelings of safety and freedom take hold.

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To the editor: The tyrannical assault on our freedoms may be relenting, but the system that allowed these atrocities to occur remains. It’s not about masks and shutdowns. It’s about the people having a legislative voice in the lawmaking process.

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A governor’s emergency orders need to be limited to 72 hours. To remain in effect any longer, said laws should have to be voted on by our Legislature and approved by the courts.

Moreover, the director of any government agency with the authority to make laws needs to be an elected official. Health department bureaucrats dictating safety over freedom need to be accountable to the voters.

Lloyd Forrester, Simi Valley

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To the editor: It has been my opinion from the beginning of the pandemic that Gov. Gavin Newsom saved lives. Because of his business acumen and constantly positive outlook, he was able to work effectively with former President Trump (a major feat in its own right) to get medical supplies needed for the pandemic.

To those of us who felt the calamitous threat of the pandemic, he was a comforting force. His taking emergency control gave many of us solace faced with the follies of local governments.

That Newsom should be facing a recall seems utterly political. And please, no more mention of the French Laundry incident. The fact that many ultra-conservatives wanted to put money before lives during the pandemic makes their criticism of the French Laundry dinner almost laughable.

Lynn Lorenz, Newport Beach

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To the editor: Now that the United States has reached the grim record of more than 600,000 COVID-19 deaths, a little perspective is in order.

First, that figure far exceeds the population of the city of Long Beach. Second, if every person who has died after contracting the virus was represented by a single sheet of paper, that tower would stand about 200 feet in the air.

Isn’t it time we start thinking about building a monument to those who have passed away during the pandemic?

Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach

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To the editor: I am one consumer who will continue to wear a mask when I leave home (even if it’s to go to my laundry room) and to have my groceries delivered.

I’ve been vaccinated, but I don’t know if everyone else around me got their shots. I’ve had chemotherapy within the last year, and my immune system may still be compromised. I’d prefer not to take chances.

As an older person who doesn’t drive, I’ve had my groceries delivered for years. I don’t like having to drag heavy bags upstairs to my apartment. The delivery driver for the company I use frequently brings heavy bags into my kitchen.

Sue Kamm, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The day before June 15, hundreds of people gathered in Huntington Beach for a “Freedom March.” This looked like a superspreader event to me, with unmasked and likely unvaccinated people congregating in close quarters.

I suggest that the statistics on reported COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths identify which are unvaccinated. Putting these numbers into two groups would make people see the efficacy of vaccination in controlling the pandemic.

In the meantime, I’m keeping on my mask when in crowds of random people, because I assume that most people refusing to get vaccinated are going to thumb their noses at the mask mandate that still applies to them, thereby serving as an incubator for the emerging variants.

Those who are not part of the solution are part of the problem.

Roberta Fox, Costa Mesa

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To the editor: For 16 months, we’ve watched a segment of the population vilify Dr. Anthony Fauci and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, refuse to wear masks or adhere to social-distancing requirements, and now, refuse to get vaccinated.

Yet it is this same population, the unvaccinated, we are being asked to trust to wear masks while the rest of us, who are vaccinated, are free to remove them. This seems like a population completely unworthy of our trust after watching their behavior for the past 16 months.

Valerie Burchfield Rhodes, Laguna Niguel


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