Written by Michael Palomba
Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered all Californians to wear face coverings while in public. The order comes a week after Orange County made masks strongly recommended, but not mandatory.
I thought we lived in a democracy, but Newsom seems to have assumed dictator levels of control. This order is clearly an act of retaliation against Orange County, and it’s not the first. Orange County has prioritized freedom throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Back in April, Orange County beaches remained open even while most other coastal counties closed their beaches. It didn’t take long for Newsom to retaliate, ordering them to close their beaches on April 30.
Gov. Newsom made a statement following his latest order, saying “simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered—putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing.”
Most major counties in California, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Alameda, Sacramento, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and San Mateo had already implemented mask requirements. While I don’t necessarily agree with their decisions, Newsom’s order goes a step further by forcing everyone in California to wear a mask, regardless of what their county officials believe is best. This is especially a problem considering that COVID-19 cases and deaths have been concentrated in dense cities, while inland counties have largely been spared. Forcing spacious rural counties to follow the same excessive mandates as crowded metropolitan areas makes no sense medically, politically, or legally.
This authoritarian style of rule needs to come to an end. Newsom is not a dictator, but an elected governor whose power is constrained by other branches of government as well as localities. While the pandemic is an important and complex situation, it’s not a free pass for politicians to do whatever they please.