“Every state is experiencing a surge, which begs the question, how do these shutdowns actually reduce cases?” Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher told Fox News on Friday.
Newsom announced new restrictions as the state suffers from a surge in coronavirus cases. If a region’s available intensive care unit capacity drops to below 15%, the rules would shut down businesses and activities there for at least three weeks. California had a record 20,759 new cases on Dec. 2, and COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by 33% in the past week.
“If we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said of his plan.
But shutdowns are crippling small businesses and harming students who are struggling with virtual learning, Gallagher said.
“My restaurateurs, barbershops, hair salons, these are all small business folks who are trying to earn a living and they talk to me all the time about, ‘Hey why are we getting shut down? We can operate with safety protocols just like Lowe’s and Home Depot,’” Gallagher said. “And it’s a great point.”
A spokesman for Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Gallagher also argued that children subjected to distance learning are struggling and suffering from mental health effects — something that a study released by the nonprofit co-founded by Newsom’s wife suggested last week.
The California Partners Project study found prolonged social isolation may be damaging teenagers’ social growth.
“I’ve seen eight suicides in one of my counties among youths,” Gallagher said. “This is a public health crisis that no one is talking about. Our schools need to be reopened.”
Gallagher, who has five children, said he even noticed effects on his oldest, who is in high school.
One thing Gallagher said he agreed with under Newsom’s new rules is that schools that have already reopened don’t have to close down.
But rather than focusing on shutting down businesses and keeping other schools closed to try and slow the spread, Gallagher said the government should be rallying support and funding for health care workers and infrastructure.
“When you look out here in California, we’ve got a pretty blue state,” Gallagher said. “My area’s pretty red, pretty freedom loving, maybe people don’t follow these … orders as much — but even in the really blue areas, where people follow whatever directive they get, you’re seeing skyrocketing cases.”
He also took issue with the governor’s emergency powers, which he called autocratic, and floated the idea of new legislation to roll them back with time limits or to require public input.
“The governor and the state public health officer essentially get to make every decision on this front without any public input,” he said. “That looks more like a dictatorship … I think you can fully expect that myself and others to introduce legislation that gets us back to representative government.”
It’s not the first time the two have squared off over executive powers. Gallagher successfully sued Newsom for overstepping his gubernatorial authority earlier this month by ordering counties to mail all eligible voters mail-in ballots.