Californians Feel Less Optimistic About the Pandemic Than They Did Last Spring – The New York Times

California Today

A new survey finds that Californians are increasingly uncertain that the worst is behind them.

Soumya Karlamangla


 Covid-19 admissions are still straining hospitals in California, but the Omicron surge may have begun to recede at last.
Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

As you’re probably aware by now, Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are plummeting in California — the first pandemic-related good news in months.

And while there’s no way to know what the coronavirus will do next, many hope the Omicron surge was the last big one, since the variant’s extreme infectiousness means that millions of Americans now have an added layer of immunity.

Californians, however, aren’t feeling all that hopeful.

A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California released this week uncovered the lowest levels of optimism about the pandemic since last spring.

The survey found that 67 percent of Californians believe that the worst of the pandemic is behind the United States, compared with 86 percent who felt that way in May 2021.

Forty-two percent of Golden State residents say they are somewhat or very concerned about catching the coronavirus, a jump from 28 percent in May, the poll found.

There are a few things to keep in mind here. The survey data was collected in late January, when Omicron was peaking, so it may reflect an artificially high level of anxiety among Californians that has already begun to dip.

But, probably more meaningfully, the way we think about the pandemic (or at least the way I do) has also fundamentally shifted since last spring.

The initial rollout of the vaccines in late 2020 brought the promise of a tidy ending to Covid-19: Once we all got our shots, the virus would be a thing of the past.

In the spring and early summer last year, as cases plummeted in California after a giant winter surge, life felt especially rosy.

But then the Delta variant emerged, and Omicron months later.

Those outbreaks made it increasingly clear that the coronavirus was most likely going to become endemic, and that we have to learn how to live alongside it.

So while it’s true that Omicron may mark the beginning of a return to our prepandemic lives, we’re now uncomfortably aware that there are no guarantees. My colleague Apoorva Mandavilli tackled this idea in her latest article about what comes after Omicron.

“This is a choose-your-own-adventure story, and the ending is not written yet,” Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Apoorva. “Nobody is going to be able to tell us what will happen.”


Credit…Tomas Ovalle for The New York Times


Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters
  • Homelessness crisis: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $45 million to fund housing projects in Los Angeles and Sacramento to combat the state’s homelessness crisis, KTLA reports.

  • Community schools: California is trying to convert schools in low-income neighborhoods into centers of community life, EdSource reports.

  • Nuclear energy: Nearly 80 scientists and academics urged California to delay closure of its remaining nuclear plant to comply with state laws on fighting global warming, Reuters reports.


  • Officer vacancies: San Diego is losing police officers, and the decrease is being blamed on the city’s vaccine mandate, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Drakeo the Ruler: A wrongful-death lawsuit filed this week said that negligence and lax security at a Live Nation music festival led to the fatal stabbing of the Los Angeles rapper Drakeo the Ruler.

  • U.C.L.A. threats: A former lecturer at the university is being held without bail after threatening violence against the school, The Associated Press reports.

  • Wildlife freeway: Boeing has donated $1 million to build a bridge over a highway that would allow animals to cross it, The Associated Press reports.


  • Fresno State: The former university president is under fire for mishandling sexual assault allegations, The Fresno Bee reports.


  • Mayor sued: A lawsuit against San Jose and its mayor, Sam Liccardo, claims he used a private email account for city business, The Associated Press reports.

  • Fan in coma: A San Francisco 49ers fan was beaten during Sunday’s N.F.C. championship game against the Los Angeles Rams and is in a medically induced coma, The Associated Press reports.

  • Struggling school: The San Francisco Art Institute has formalized plans to integrate with — and eventually be acquired by — the University of San Francisco.

  • San Francisco fire: A fire on Thursday in the city’s Mission District displaced 22 people, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Mountain lions: A town in San Mateo County has found a new way to thwart housing development: invoking the supposed endangerment of mountain lions, SFGate reports.

  • Rising rent: In 2022, rent prices rebounded in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego, Santa Ana and Anaheim.


Credit…Rozette Rago for The New York Times

Five of the best sushi restaurants in Los Angeles.

Today’s travel tip comes from Lawrence Haynes, who recommends Lava Beds National Monument:

“What a gem! It was like going back to prehistoric times. There were many different volcanic features including large lava beds and volcanic cones. But the most exciting part of the park were the many caves that can be explored. Each cave we entered was different from the next one depending on how they were created; one even had frozen water at the bottom when it was nearly 95 outside!

We ran into and talked with a member of the Native American tribe that lived in the area. She was a wealth of information. She described several places we could go to and see pictographs and petroglyphs that were off the beaten path. Of course, we went; they were spectacular!”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’re asking about love: not who you love, but what you love about your corner of California.

Email us a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — and we may share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can reach the team at


Credit…David F. Smith/Associated Press