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The Price of a Virus Lockdown: Economic ‘Free Fall’ in California



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LOS ANGELES — Locked down in their homes, the four former California governors clicked into a Zoom call and one after another described how they dealt with the crises that had defined their time in office. For Pete Wilson, it was the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Gray Davis evoked the electricity disaster that drove him out in a recall election, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown lamented the Great Recession.

But the former governors agreed that nothing they confronted was as dire or will be more consequential than what the current occupant of the office, Gov. Gavin Newsom, now faces.

The economic collapse resulting from the coronavirus pandemic “dwarfs any problem the four of us had,” Mr. Davis recalled saying at the meeting, which took place late last month and was convened by Mr. Newsom.

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