SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After nearly three years, Tuesday marked the end of California’s COVID-19 state of emergency.
Governor Gavin Newsom had been in office for just one year when COVID-19 made it’s way to California. On March 4 2020, California was the first state to issue a stay at home order.
UC San Diego Political Science Professor Thad Kousser said the pandemic defined the governor’s first term in office.
“It put him right at the front and center on our TV sets every day, at the front of the news, and he seemed to really be buoyed by it," said Kousser. "But as the pandemic dragged on and he had his scandal at the French Laundry, it became the thing that nearly sunk his governorship and led to the recall that threatened him for a while. He's rebounded, in part because of California's strong rebound both economically and strong performance and health wise."
In a recent press conference, Newsom touted the state’s 'SMARTER' plan, which prepared for the day the state of emergency ended and included stockpiling masks and tests and wastewater surveillance if a COVID-19 surge were to happen again.
"We were the first state to put out a post-pandemic plan, more of an endemic plan," said Newsom. "California is better prepared and that's because we have serious legislature and health ecosystem in California that is second to none in the country."
Newsom does, however, think the country is ready for a future potential surge.
“I'm not sure the nation is better prepared based on some of the amnesia that's been developed," he said. "This backlash on vaccines and masks and everything, but that's another conversation for another day, but California is better prepared."
Jeffrey Klausner is a professor of public health science at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
“I think it's been time to end state of emergency for, actually, a long time now, and we're no longer in that type of emergency situation where we didn't have the hospital capacity to take care of people. We also have, you know, vaccines available that are available to people, we also have treatments available. So the emergency has been over," he said.
Despite different political viewpoints on COVID across the country, he said the country is also prepared for the national state of emergency to end May 11.
“We are at a point where 97% or more of people in America have either been vaccinated or recover from infection. So the levels of immunity are extraordinarily high, and it's really that immunity protects us from serious outcomes like hospitalization, being in the intensive care unit or death”
Even though the state's emergency order ended, California lawmakers put some of the provisions into law. That includes insurance companies, within the state, being required to cover the cost of vaccinations and testing even after the national state of emergency ends.
There are still five other states that have emergency orders in place, including Texas and Illinois.
Most of the state of emergency orders were lifted long before Tuesday, such as the mask mandates, business closures and the eviction moratorium. Most Californians won’t notice the change in their day to day lives.
After the federal emergency ends in May, that’s when some uninsured Californians could see some increased costs for things like tests, but even that is unclear.