It’s the opening of fire season in California.
But the biggest threat to the people of the state right now is Gov. Gavin Newsom and his shifting rules about closing businesses and schools to fight the coronavirus.
Until last week, things were starting to look up out here, pandemic-wise.
Los Angeles County, where I live, has been the worst hit county in the state, by far, with 5,112 of its 10,813 COVID-19 deaths.
As in every other state between here and Boston, the already very sick and the very old accounted for most of the deaths. About 75 percent were over age 65 and 4,486 were living in nursing homes.
California was struggling to come back to life in mid-June when Newsom finally allowed dine-in restaurants, retail stores, bars, religious services and gyms in some counties to re-open under certain state guidelines.
More recently, deaths per day have been in a slight decline. So have new positive case numbers per day, COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions.
Those and other hopeful trends weren’t good enough for Newsom, however.
Last week, seizing on a spike in hospitalizations, he and his health experts again effectively shut down most of the state’s economic and social life.
Newsom forced gyms, houses of worship, hair salons, malls and other businesses to lock their doors again. He also outlawed all indoor dining and ordered the closing of bars, zoos and museums.
What’s worse, he decreed that public and private schools in 32 of the most populous counties must remain closed this fall and kids can only be taught via remote learning.
Preventing schools from reopening - even private ones - is Newsom’s most foolish and harmful mistake.
Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York knows how important it is for kids to get back in school - for the kids’ sake, the sake of their parents and the sake of society.
Californians are trying hard to survive Newsom and his fickle rule making.
In my neighborhood I see people getting manicures and pedicures on the sidewalks.
The other day, when I ate dinner at my favorite local Italian restaurant, my wife Colleen and I sat outside on the sidewalk at a table next to the grill of a car in a parking lot. Very romantic.
Inside, the poor owner had put up plastic shields, sanitized everything and spaced out tables to make sure he met the governor’s earlier rules, but he is once again forbidden to serve anyone.
Up in Napa Valley I have a friend who owns wineries and has three wine tasting places. Only one is allowed to be open because it has outdoor tables.
So far this year, he’s down $8 million.
Business people like my friend across America are getting slaughtered by Newsom and power-mad governors like him.
It didn’t surprise me when I heard an industry spokesman say on TV that 85 percent of the country’s restaurants are going to go bankrupt.
We need to get some politicians with guts in California and elsewhere.
We can’t continue to have authoritarian governors shutting down a school system or an entire state every time there’s a spike in new COVID-19 cases.
We have to start finding ways to live with the coronavirus, not hide from it, because it’s not going away anytime soon.
Even when we get a vaccine we’ll still need to wash our hands and keep social distance and wear a mask.
Now that we’re into the craziness of a presidential campaign, the politics are going to make everything worse.
We already have Joe Biden and his new sidekick Kamala Harris blaming President Trump for a virus that started in China.
So far everything Biden says he’d do to fight the virus when he becomes president has already been done by President Trump.
But on Thursday Biden came out with a brilliant new idea - a national mandate for wearing masks outside. Apparently, Newsom is advising Joe’s campaign team.