Gov. Gavin Newsom thanks MLKCH for their "leadership" combatting the Covid-19 crisis

Visit comes on same day the statewide mask mandate is lifted

June 18, 2021 – California Gov. Gavin Newsom capped a day of public celebrations around the lifting of the statewide mask mandate with a personal visit to MLK Community Hospital in South LA, where he thanked a large and enthusiastic crowd of employees for their heroic efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I'm here with just deep admiration and respect to each and every one of you," Newsom said in the MLK cafeteria. "Thank you for being leaders. Thank you for saving lives. Thank you for giving less to your own self and caring more about other people’s lives. Thank you, as Dr. King would say, for bending down upon one knee to lift other people up."

Newsom was joined by LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, state Senator Steven Bradford and Assemblyman Mike Gipson., all of whom also praised MLK Community Healthcare staff.

MLKCH was the only hospital Newsm visited on June 15, the day California formally lifted the year-long mask mandate; Newsom credited MLKCH and other health care workers for getting the state to this milestone.

Photo of Gov. Newsom, elected officials, MLKCH CEO and staff

"The pandemic is not extinguished...but because of your hard work California's case rates are among the lowest in America. Its positivity rates are among the lowest in America. And our vaccination rates are among the highest," he said.

After speaking with staff he toured the hospital's intensive care unit with MLKCH CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor to speak personally with staff who bore the heaviest burden during the crisis.

"You've see things you can't unsee. You've had experiences none of us will ever have. Your holding hands because loved ones can't be in that room to hold the hand of someone as they have their last breath. The stories that reside in each and every one of you are jaw-dropping."

MLK Community Hospital was at the center of the winter Covid surge, with more patients proportionate to bed size (and in many cases, in sheer numbers) than any other hospital in Southern California. The hospital erected five medical treatment tents, doubled its bed capacity and called in medical reservists from the National Guard to handle the surge.

"They just did an amazing job," said Batchlor. "I kept waiting for my staff to tell me they couldn't handle any more; they never did."

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