California Imposes Equity Criteria for Reopenings
California imposed an additional layer of requirements before counties can lift restrictions on businesses.
As the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson writes, the new health equity metric requires counties to show:
…that they are investing in “eliminating disparities in levels of transmission” affecting disadvantaged communities, or have already eliminated such disparities, as a condition of being allowed to reopen economic activity any further. Simply achieving a satisfactory overall low rate of transmission will not be enough.
That’s not all. According to Fox LA reporter Bill Melugin:
“The state will incorporate the California ‘Healthy Places Index’ (HPI) into its decision making for county reopenings. The HPI measures numerous things, including two parent households, voting, alcohol availability, retail density, clean air & water, and ‘tree canopy’.”
Olson says the equity criteria as written appear designed to advance a particular economic agenda, not public health or safety:
One hopes that what is going on here is not a threat to restrain economic activity that would otherwise be recognized as low‐risk as a way of obtaining leverage with which to push counties into “equity” initiatives that go beyond criteria of sound disease control.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said the goal of the new equity criteria was inclusion, and that “we believe that we’re all better off when we’re all better off.”
Don Wagner (R), a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, said the new criteria were “moving the goal posts” on local business reopenings.