State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) on Monday called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to do more to protect seniors and medically vulnerable people during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to Newsom, Glazer said the governor should make state guidance clearer that seniors and the medically vulnerable should avoid entering or working at non-essential businesses and that those businesses should have clearer signage to ensure medically vulnerable people know a business is non-essential.
Newsom should also expand and extend state services and programs that benefit seniors and medically vulnerable people, Glazer said.
Glazer used the example of the state's Great Plates Delivered program, which delivers three restaurant-prepared meals each day to eligible seniors, as something that should be expanded to support high-risk residents.
"If we do want to protect our most vulnerable Californians as we go forward, we need to make it clear that they need to stay home and we need to do our best work to protect them," Glazer said.
Younger family members of seniors and medically vulnerable people should also stay inside to prevent spreading the virus to others in their families, Glazer said.
The risk of doing so is even higher for people in what Glazer called "overcrowded living conditions."
"That young person that goes out and gets the virus and may be asymptomatic comes home and infects others in that household, including the elderly, which has serious consequences," Glazer said.
State health officials have observed a rise in coronavirus cases statewide over the last two weeks, leading to the postponement of various businesses and activities resuming operations.
On Sunday, Newsom ordered bars across the state to close after a surge of coronavirus cases that some state officials see linked to young people going out to bars and restaurants and not taking proper precautions like wearing face coverings and practicing physical distancing.
Protecting seniors and those who are medically vulnerable is not as much of a priority as it should be, Glazer suggested, adding that local health officials and governments also need to monitor how high-risk populations are moving around to protect them from the virus.
"This is a life-or-death choice for so many here in California," he said. "I don't think you should sugarcoat the consequences of this virus on the elderly. And yet it seems to have been forgotten."