Fact Check of Newsom’s 2021 State of the State Address

By Brandon Ristoff
March 10, 2021

Here is our fact check of Governor Newsom’s 2021 State of the State Address, which was held at Dodger Stadium.

“All of which is why California’s death rate has remained one of the lowest per capita in the nation: 134 deaths per 100,000, compared to 158 nationally, 153 in Texas and 247 in New York.”

While the numbers are correct, we are ranked 30 out of 50 in deaths per capita according to Worldometer. Our neighbor Oregon has approximately 55 COVID deaths per 100,000. Utah, which had very few COVID restrictions, has about 62 COVID deaths per 100,000. It’s misleading to say we are “one of the lowest in the nation.”

“Today, we have the most robust vaccination program in America. California now ranks sixth in the world for vaccine distribution, ahead of countries like Israel, Russia, Germany and France.”

Looking at it this way, Israel could never be the “most robust vaccination program” because it only has 8.8 million people versus California’s 39 million. The biggest country/state should not by default win this award. You have to look at the percentage of the population being vaccinated. According the NY Times Vaccination tracker, Israel has 44.4% of their country fully vaccinated at this point. The United States has only 9.7% of the population fully vaccinated. Looking at the states, Alaska has 16% of their population fully vaccinated, and are now allowing all adults 16 and above to get the vaccine, while California has only 8.7% of the population fully vaccinated.

“California has the most innovation, venture capital, and small-business investment in this country. We will keep fostering every small entrepreneur—the drivers of our GDP.”

It is hard for California to be fostering entrepreneurs if companies and people are leaving the state in droves. This is compounded by a decline in population from 2019 and 2020.

“Look, Jen and I live this as parents of four young children. Helping them cope with the fatigue of “Zoom school.” The loneliness of missing their friends. Frustrated by emotions they don’t yet fully understand.”

While many students in California have only been online since the pandemic began, Newsom’s kids are not among those who have been solely online.

“In December, as COVID surged, many schools were contemplating an alarming decision – giving up on in-person instruction for the rest of the school year. In the few short months since – working together with parents, teachers, and school leaders – we have turned the conversation from whether to reopen, to when. Every day, more schools announce reopening dates. In fact, almost 7,000 schools are open or plan to reopen by mid-April for in-person instruction.”

As of Feb. 23, 74% of elementary students are still online only, with 7% of elementary students fully in-person (not hybrid), so there is still a long way to go. For example, in Los Angeles, schools are planning on reopening for hybrid instruction, not fully in-person instruction. Also, for LAUSD schools, middle and high schoolers might not being going back to school until at earliest late April, assuming the plan remains.

“We can do this. The science is sound. We start with early grades and build up from there.”

While this would be a fair enough argument if California was the first state to open up and we still had a lot of COVID cases, we are in dead last in reopening schools, according to Burbio, and California, as of March 10, has one of the lowest rates of COVID cases out of the fifty states. Experts say reopening schools is the right thing to do. The slow approach does not make sense at this point.

Update: Updated with new Washington Post COVID-19 case numbers.

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Brandon Ristoff is a policy analyst for the California Policy Center.

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