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Newsom declares end of Covid-19 emergency in California

California Governor Gavin Newsom ended the Covid state of emergency nearly three years to the day after he declared it.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California’s governor has officially terminated the statewide Covid-19 state of emergency, nearly three years since he first declared it.

The state of emergency was first set on March 4, 2020, at the onset of the nationwide pandemic. In a proclamation issued Tuesday, Newsom said it would no longer be active starting March 1. 

“The state’s SMARTER Plan will maintain California’s operational preparedness to address the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to guide the state’s work to support communities across the state,” Newsom said in a statement. “Additionally, Covid-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment continue to be available at sites within local communities across the state.”

The SMARTER Plan refers to the next phase of the state’s approach to the pandemic. It emphasizes minimizing strain on health care workers while keeping businesses and schools open, by increasing vaccination rates, deploying resources to hospitals and communities, tracking cases and building a state supply chain for tests and masks.

The SMARTER Plan is designed to address Covid-19 in California nearly three year since the pandemic began. (California Department of Public Health via Courthouse News)

In a news release, Newsom shared some factors behind his decision. California’s Covid-19 death rate was among the lowest in the nation at 255 deaths per 100,000 people — just behind Nebraska. He said that if the state had Texas’ death rate, 27,000 more people would have died, and at Florida’s rate, 56,000 more people would have died. Nationally, the Covid-19 death rate is 339 per 100,000.

Newsom also pointed to the fact that the state has administered more than 88 million vaccines, with nearly 73% of the state’s population receiving at least one dose against the virus. 

A new graph of Covid-19 cases tracked by ethnicity in California, updated Feb. 9. (California Department of Public Health via Courthouse News)

To support his decision, Newsom also said that the average California student has experienced less learning loss than the rest of the nation, with 8th graders seeing no declines in reading scores.

His administration has faced mounting pressure over how to address effects on public education during the pandemic, with many schools modifying campus operations during 2020 and 2021. The governor has emphasized minimizing learning loss, reporting that according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, California’s reading scores remained "relatively steady" while most other states and the national average showed declines, and math scores didn’t decline as much as most other states or the national average.

The governor also pointed to the fact that California’s GDP contracted less and grew faster than the U.S. GDP between 2019 and 2022. The state unemployment rate fell nearly twice as fast as other states with large populations and is on track to become the 4th largest economy in the world.

But Newsom faces a difficult economic recovery despite last year’s $72.4 billion budget surplus. His proposed budget is slimmer heading into the next fiscal year at $297 billion, down from last year’s $308 billion budget, given a projected $22.5 billion tax revenue shortfall. 

The state Covid-19 website is still active, although data is reported more slowly — monthly rather than weekly. The latest data from Feb. 23 shows a decline in cases since the last spike in early December, from about 70 case per 100,000 to about 7 new cases per 100,000 as of Feb. 14. New information about the pandemic can be found at Tracking Covid-19 in California.

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