Spotlight on Crisis Leadership: Governor Gavin Newsom

by Chrysa Perakis

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, here at the Bedrosian Center we want to highlight the exceptional leadership we have witnessed on the local, state, national, and international level during this public health crisis. Each week going forward we will be featuring a leader that has demonstrated good governance and effective leadership. 

Name: Gavin Newsom
Position: Governor of California
Years in office: 2019-present

Governor Newsom was elected in 2018 and has emerged as a leader during the COVID-19 crisis as California was the first state in the country to have a stay at home order in place. He issued Executive Order N-33-20 on March 19, 2020 declaring a statewide shelter in place order for California residents to remain at home and designating certain sectors as essential. Throughout the shelter in place order, Governor Newsom has been vigilant in keeping California residents updated on COVID-19 data on infections and deaths, safety resources, and continuing restrictions. He has remained strong on the stance that “CA is lead by data and science” and that would lead his actions regarding statewide closures. 

In addition to prioritizing the health and safety of Californians, Governor Newsom has also made important decisions and allocated financial resources to help with the economic impact of the virus and subsequent closures. On April 15th, the Governor’s office announced $125 million dollars in COVID-19 assistance funds to California’s undocumented immigrants. While federal stimulus checks did not go out to the workers of the undocumented population, Governor Newsom ordered these financial benefits and health protections, including classifying COVID-19 testing and treatment as emergency services to include all affected individuals. When addressing this allocation of funds, the Governor said, “ ‘We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians.’ ” 

Looking ahead to prevent future COVID-19 infections and acknowledging the unknown trajectory of the virus, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order for every registered voter in California to receive a mail-in ballot for the upcoming 2020 election. Addressing health concerns while also highlighting the importance of the upcoming presidential election, the Governor said, “There’s a lot of concern and excitement around this November’s election in terms of making sure that … your health is protected and to make sure we are reaching out to all registered, eligible voters.” By deciding to make California a vote by mail state months before the November election, Governor Newsom is also providing extra time to all 58 counties and elections offices in the state to prepare for the upcoming election.

Most recently and as the state continues to reopen Governor Newsom, along with the California Department of Public Health, has issued a mandatory mask requirement for the entire state of California to wear masks when out in public. The Governor said, “ ‘Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,’ ” when discussing the importance of wearing masks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a mask can help stop the spread of infection, especially considering asymptomatic carriers. 

Governor Newsom has shown strong leadership in the last few months regarding COVID-19 and played a primary role in California’s safety. He took quick actions to close the state and made sure all affected Californians were included and equipped with financial support resources and funds. An effective leader does not only address ongoing emergencies but also looks ahead to strategically plan for future management.