Norberto Santana, Jr. is one of the golden state’s best columnists, proven again this time in the awards competition amongst California’s biggest and best news companies.

Santana’s columns revealed and examined cataclysmic truths about the Coronavirus pandemic before the disastrous effects would come to light.

Santana won second place in the California News Publishers Association awards contest for best columnist — coming in right after the San Francisco Chronicle’s food culture columnist and ahead of a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Santana’s first of the two-column award set was published April 2, 2020. Just two weeks after the initial stay-at-home order.

“OC Health Care Agency officials have been scrambling daily for weeks to find more N95 protective cloth face masks for a variety of first responders, doctors and nurses, now even authorizing the use of expired masks as a last resort. Yet in February HCA executives sold off as government surplus five huge pallets of protective masks that were expired.”

The column pre-dated hundreds of frontline healthcare workers being sickened, some dying, as a result of working the initial load of COVID-19 cases without proper protection.

Santana’s second column in the award winning column was penned just on the heels of Orange County hitting the 1,000 death toll mark back in September 2020.

“More than 1,000 Orange County residents are now dead from the Coronavirus. Yet County of Orange officials continue to double down on politicizing the public health department.”

That column accurately examined how politicians were more focused on political benefit from the pandemic than on protecting public health.

Santana ended by saying the county’s approach was “a dangerous approach to public health” just three months before the deadliest spike in the county hit at Christmas.

In 2020 judges took special note of Santana’s columns in his win, saying: “Every voter and taxpayer in Orange County should be outraged by these columns revealing the arrogance of Orange County officials in block the public’s right to know – and be heard. The reporting here is exhaustive, the writing is brisk yet conversational.”

This most recent win for columns is just one on the list of those awarded Santana for his powerful Voice of OC columns that have focused like a laser on core quality of life issues in the community and local government. His work has been honored as best columnist in the Southern California awards by the LA Press Club, as distinguished journalist by the Los Angeles Society of Professional Journalists and in Orange County multiple years in a row by the OC Press Club.

While Voice of OC’s budget is small, Voice of OC journalists took home a record 18 wins this year. This is the third year in which Voice of OC, a digital outlet, was included in the California News Publishers Association awards contest, originally created for traditional newspapers.

And remember, this award-winning work at Voice of OC comes to you free-of-charge, with no advertising disrupting the experience. But that also means we rely on your support to sustain and expand our efforts — please become a donor today.

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