ONE YEAR LATER: The critical role politics played amid the pandemic

Virus Outbreak California Schools
Posted at 4:15 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 19:15:08-04

(KERO) — Some of history's most respected political leaders come from times of crisis. George Washington helping lead a nation to independence, Abraham Lincoln helping heal a country at war with itself, and Franklin D. Roosevelt helping to overcome the great depression and World Ward II. With that in mind, it's no surprise that those in positions of power became focal points as America shut down last spring.

"It's dominated everything, whether it's the news, whether it's our personal lives, or whether it's politics over the last year,” said Allen Bolar, a political science professor at Bakersfield College.

Last March, as the COVID threat, became apparent, these are the types of images that many Kern County residents, and Americans at large, got used to seeing.

Leaders on the local, state, and national level holding regular press briefings, giving the latest on the COVID threat.

The message was uniform at first, as little was known about the emerging threat. those in a position of power mostly erring on the side of caution as more was learned about COVID.

As April came, two Kern County doctors became the center of national attention, calling for the end of economic restrictions.

"We've never ever responded to something like this in the history of this country, why are we doing this now?" Said Dr. Dan Erickson, whose comments during a press briefing went viral.

Youtube removing the clips of the doctors, saying their statements contradicted Health Authority Guidelines. Kern Public Health also disagreed With the doctors, but County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop with d different tone saying Dr. Dan Erickson was courageous.

The county speaking out against Governor Newsom's economic restrictions, questioning why businesses are being restricted when county contact tracing data showed that the virus spread the most in households, not businesses. Newsom also the target of conspiracy theories.

"People argued that Gavin Newsom wanted to remake California and he was going to use this crisis to do it, some people didn't wear masks as a political statement on the right,” said Jeremy Adams, a political science teacher at Bakersfield High School.

Newsom was largely applauded for his response at the beginning of the pandemic including by President Trump. But as many Californians grew frustrated with economic restrictions, and he was seen maskless at a dinner party in November, that changed.

"The spirit of what I'm preaching all the time was contradicted, and I gotta own that,” Newsom said. “So I want to apologize to you."

Also suffering political losses in the 2020 election cycle: Republicans. The party losing the White House and the Senate, something our political experts attribute, at least in part, to many people being out of work.