In Case You Missed It: California Healthline: "Newsom Likes To 'Go Big' But Doesn't Always Deliver"

Monday, June 8, 2020

By Angela Hart

Gavin Newsom knew it was a political gamble when, as the newly elected mayor of San Francisco, he promised to eradicate chronic homelessness. …

“I don’t want to over-promise, but I also don’t want to under-deliver,” he said.

Over-promise he did, and the venture ultimately failed. …

The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the 52-year-old Democrat …

But it has also exposed his penchant for making ambitious, showy announcements — often broadcast to a national audience — that aren’t necessarily ready for prime time. His plans regularly lack detail and, in some cases, follow-through. …

…  But as the crisis wears on, the list of Newsom’s unfulfilled promises is growing:

On April 7, he told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that he had inked a deal securing “upwards” of 200 million protective masks per month,  … The $1 billion effort has been riddled with flaws, and the state so far has taken back nearly $250 million from the Chinese contractor, BYD Ltd. Co.

Later that month, Newsom announced a deal with Motel 6 that would provide thousands of rooms for homeless people in need of shelter. At least 5,025 Motel 6 rooms at 47 sites would open their doors to homeless people … But to date, just 628 Motel 6 rooms are open to homeless people at six sites.

Newsom also said in April that California must dramatically expand COVID-19 testing before it reopens to at least 60,000 — ideally 80,000 — tests per day. But the state still has not consistently reached 60,000 tests per day …

In other cases, the governor has artfully avoided making specific promises. For instance, he has called the safety of nursing home patients and staff members a “top priority” without detailing plans, allowing him to dodge criticism even as more than half the deaths in California have occurred in long-term care facilities, according to state data. …

But his support could erode if the public begins to notice that his promises — and lofty rhetoric — do not match reality, said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the institute.

“The risk is public opinion can shift very quickly if people get a sense that it’s not going well or according to expectations.” [said Baldassare.]

Although Newsom himself has acknowledged criticism that the state is falling short on some fronts, …

… The coronavirus pandemic, in particular, could have long-lasting consequences for Newsom’s future …

Davis resident Simon Chin has grown disillusioned with Newsom since the start of the crisis.

Chin’s father, 80-year-old George Chin, lived in Stollwood Convalescent Hospital in nearby Woodland. Chin regularly tuned into Newsom’s public briefings on the crisis to hear the governor say he was committed to preventing infections in nursing homes and protecting staff members and residents.

But infections in senior care homes continued to rise. ….

State Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said it’s the responsibility of nursing homes, not the state, to test.

“It’s not what we’re doing, and it’s, in our view, not feasible,” Ghaly said in an interview, noting that across the state, there are about 119,000 nursing home beds and about 90,000 staff members.

Newsom’s rhetoric at times has given the public a false sense of hope, said Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine.

“When it comes to vulnerable older adults in California, all this governor has been doing is saying he’s going to act, he’s going to help them, but he hasn’t actually taken action,” Wasserman said. “People are dying because of it.”

Newsom’s reassuring statements during his public briefings made Chin feel like the state was doing more to prevent widespread infections, he said.

But Chin’s father died of COVID-19 on April 22. State records show 15 residents — roughly half of the nursing home’s capacity — died of the disease.

“We had no idea that there were such big problems in skilled nursing facilities based on what the governor was saying,” Chin said. “By the time we found out, it was too late.”

Click here to read the entire article published in California Healthline.