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California coronavirus infections spike as Gov. Newsom pushes forward with reopening plans

Billionaire and former presidential candidate Tom Steyer has joined forces with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to lead the state’s recovery task force. 

The economic devastation was so harsh, sudden, and unprecedented in California, Steyer told Yahoo Finance, that the task force, which also includes former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Walt Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger, has been forced to “make up the playbook of how to respond to this health crisis.”

While Newsom became the first governor to shut down his state’s economy to combat the surge of coronavirus cases in March, he’s since taken a more nuanced approach to the rise in reported cases in the state over the past 14 days in the hopes of limiting the damage. There have been over 33,000 new coronavirus cases over the past two weeks.

There are over 1.8 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

California has a total of 113,852 coronavirus cases as of June 1. Newsom said the state’s unemployment rate, which was at 3.9% earlier this year, could peak at 24.5%.

“Governor Newsom has said from the very start of this crisis that health is going to be the number one consideration, protecting the safety and lives of Californians is number one,” said Steyer. “What he’s done subsequently is have a very phased reopening of the economy, piece by piece, with very strict protocols of how the different businesses are going to be operated in different phases to protect the health and lives of the working people in those businesses and also their customers.” Newsom has faced questions of whether the state is reopening too fast.

Steyer’s short-term focus is on safely reopening California’s counties by protecting workers and monitoring the phased reopening of retail stores, restaurants, manufacturing plants, beauty salons, barber shops, and other businesses. 

Former Democratic presidential candidate businessman Tom Steyer speaks at the First in the South Dinner, Feb. 24, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The long-term goal is to reinvest and recreate California’s economy, says Steyer, an advocate for clean energy.

“We’re going to be trying to create a just, equitable, sustainable, and resilient California. A sustainable California is more productive. It creates hundreds of thousands more good-paying jobs,” he said. “Equality between citizens...has to be at the forefront of our minds.”

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