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A Covid Referendum – The New York Times

Within the run-up to yesterday’s recall election in California, each Gov. Gavin Newsom and his critics framed it as a judgment on his dealing with of the pandemic. Newsom embraced his enactment of aggressive masks and vaccine mandates. His main Republican opponent, Larry Elder, promised to cancel these mandates earlier than ingesting his first cup of tea on his first day in workplace.

The recall, as my colleague Jennifer Medina wrote, grew to become a “referendum on pandemic administration.”

Now Newsom has gained that referendum in a landslide. In line with the most recent outcomes, California voters rejected eradicating him from workplace by a margin of 64 p.c to 36 p.c. The ultimate margin might change because the vote depend continues, but it surely was clearly a political victory for vaccination.

I don’t imply to recommend that the politics of Covid-19 are easy. They don’t seem to be. Lockdown fatigue might have contributed to the surprisingly robust exhibiting by Donald Trump and different Republican candidates within the 2020 elections. And Democratic politicians in some locations have favored measures — like out of doors masks mandates and monthslong faculty closures — which might be each scientifically and politically doubtful.

Newsom himself infamously ate a meal with pals at one of many state’s most interesting eating places whereas his administration was urging Californians to not collect with folks exterior their households. It performed into essentially the most unlikable components of his picture. Just a few weeks in the past, polls advised he was in jeopardy of shedding the recall.

However Newsom’s general method to the pandemic helped save him.

It aligned very intently with what public-health consultants had been urging, together with the mandates for indoor masks and vaccinations, notes Soumya Karlamangla, a Occasions reporter based mostly in Los Angeles. Initially, these measures damage Newsom’s recognition, as a result of they had been cumbersome and didn’t appear to be making a lot distinction. Within the spring, California’s case numbers weren’t so completely different from these in Florida or Texas.

“It feels a little bit like he’s the right instance of the conundrum public well being officers usually face,” Soumya says. “How do you get folks to do one thing earlier than they’ll see the danger is there?”

Extra just lately, the connection has develop into clearer. Vaccination charges have risen excessive sufficient in a lot of California — and the Delta variant is contagious sufficient among the many unvaccinated — that the state now seems to be very completely different from a lot of the Southeast and Mountain West, the place a whole bunch of individuals are dying every day and hospitals are working out of room.

In California, Covid caseloads and hospitalizations, which had been already properly beneath the nationwide common, have been falling for about two weeks. “Panic ranges really feel a lot decrease than they did even a month in the past,” Soumya says.

If something, statewide comparisons understate the facility of the vaccines; each state, together with California, has areas with comparatively low vaccination charges. While you as a substitute have a look at California on a county foundation, the image is putting.

The massive metro areas with the bottom Covid charges additionally occur to be the locations the place Democratic candidates like Newsom obtain most of their votes in California.

The San Francisco Bay Space has a hospitalization price that continues to be decrease than the U.S. price was for a lot of this yr, earlier than Delta was extensively circulating. If the remainder of the nation seemed just like the Bay Space, the Delta surge wouldn’t have been practically so dangerous:

And on a person stage, the vaccines are more practical than the county knowledge suggests. In San Francisco, most hospitalized individuals are a part of the small share of residents who stay unvaccinated.

California is clearly a deep-blue state, and Newsom’s method absolutely wouldn’t work so properly in a pink state. Nonetheless, his Covid insurance policies are nearer to what the median American voter favors than the Republican method is. Outstanding Republicans have described Covid vaccine mandates as tyrannical, although all 50 states impose different vaccine mandates. Some Republicans have additionally banned companies and faculties from taking evidence-based steps and promoted medical therapies that appear to do extra hurt than good.

In doing so, these politicians are aligning themselves with a minority of People. Nationwide, lower than 25 p.c of adults haven’t but acquired a Covid vaccine shot. Solely 26 p.c oppose a vaccine mandate at their office, in response to an Related Press ballot final month. Vaccinations, as CNN’s Brian Stelter has famous, should not a 50-50 situation.

No marvel that, within the nation’s most populous state, the general public well being consensus triumphed over its critics yesterday.

Stay theater inched again to life in New York over the summer season, however final night time was one thing of a grand reopening for Broadway, as “The Lion King,” “Depraved,” “Hamilton” and extra returned to the stage after an 18-month hiatus.

Jessica Payne stated she and her husband had flown in from Colorado to see eight exhibits in six days. “We each cried when the aircraft landed,” she stated. “We’re so blissful to be right here.”

Theaters are requiring that everybody 12 and over be vaccinated and that everybody besides performers put on a masks. Nonetheless, the virus’s current resurgence could also be affecting ticket gross sales: The ticket vendor StubHub exhibits the three blockbuster exhibits have seats obtainable for lower than $200. And the Broadway League, a commerce group, just isn’t releasing field workplace knowledge this season for concern of dampening client confidence.

In The Occasions, Michael Paulson wrote about how Broadway got here again, together with an N.F.L.-inspired program for performers’ voices. — Tom Wright-Piersanti, Morning editor

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