Amid growing debate over California’s broad stay-at-home order, state Senator Hannah Beth Jackson said on Monday that lifting social distancing restrictions too soon will “prolong the public health problem” by leading to new spikes in coronavirus sickness and death.
In a Newsmakers interview, Jackson’s comment came as calls are growing for state and local government to ease off restrictions, in view of statistical coronavirus forecasts that show social distancing has helped California “flatten the curve” in keeping the spread, at least so far, from overwhelming medical resources.
As hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have flattened – while unemployment claims have soared – Jackson, however, sided with Governor Gavin Newsom in urging patience over lifting the statewide order that has shut down large segments of California’s economy.
On other elements of the crisis, Jackson:
- Explained the extent to which the state has been overwhelmed by a “tsunami” of unemployment claims, but said the Employment Development Department has expanded both its staff and its hours and now is working “24 hours a day, seven days a week” on processing claims.
- Said she is concerned about insurance companies using fine print, added to many policies after the MERS and SARS epidemics, to disqualify businesses from “business interruption” coverage when their operations have been disrupted by a virus or pandemic.
- Expressed concern about how the pandemic will impact the remainder of the legislative session, both in terms of her own agenda of bills and, more broadly, the state budget, which will be hammered by expected declines in income, capital gains, sales and other taxes.
However, Jackson said, California was better positioned to deal with the pandemic because of experience gained during the series of wildfires and other recent disasters that have struck the state.
“We were the best prepared state in the nation for this,” she said.