Yaroslavsky on COVID-19 and the Price of Saving Lives

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to USA Today about California’s roller-coaster recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Months of shifting restrictions about lockdowns and stay-at-home orders took a significant toll on California residents. Yaroslavsky pointed out that when you ask the question “Were all the strict mandates worth it?” you are ultimately asking whether saving even one additional life was worth it. “Losing your business is an existential event; it’s a brutal price to pay,” he said. “But you can rebuild your business. You can’t do that with your life.” Yaroslavsky also said that accusations of inconsistency and hypocrisy surrounding Gov. Gavin Newsom’s management of the crisis “hurt public trust at a moment when it was sorely needed. … Any politician today has taken a hit politically because this has been an unprecedented societal disaster, but there have definitely been some who are paying a bigger price than others.”

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