My friend Craig Harrison grew up in California and lives now in Santa Rosa. In late January, he sent the following letter to the editor of a local newspaper, the Press Democrat, about California’s inability to vaccinate its population. The letter was published on February 4:
California ranks fiftieth among the states in percentage of delivered Covid vaccine that has been injected [ as of Jan. 22; it has moved up the list a bit since]. Dead last!
West Virginia ranks first [as of then]. I grew up in California, where schoolyard humorists belittled West Virginia. Now hillbillies can snigger at California’s pretentions of superiority.
The late state historian Kevin Starr described in Golden Dreams how the California of my youth created a utopian world-class multiversity; constructed an interconnected freeway and road system that was the envy of the world; and built the most ambitious water storage and distribution system in history. Today, California can’t figure out how to inject patients with vaccines during a ghastly pandemic. Millions of doses sit unused in cold storage.
In Sonoma County, I’m stymied trying to get my 96-year-old mother vaccinated.
Two thousand years ago, Emperor Nero fiddled while imperial Rome burned. Today, Governor Newsom schmoozes with high and mighty lobbyists at the world’s most expensive restaurants, and seems more interested in savoring his privileged life than governing.
My home state embarrasses me.
Newsom was already in political trouble before the failed vaccine rollout in his state. If Newsom survives this mess, California will be even more of an embarrassment.