SACRAMENTO - For the last eight months, Gov. Gavin Newsom has addressed residents of the state on a near-daily basis with the latest COVID-19 developments, guidelines and restrictions. But when it comes to following that guidance, Newsom appears to have done just the opposite.
A new report published Friday by the San Francisco Chronicle highlights a recent dinner gathering featuring the California governor and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom that contradicts what people in California have been told to do regarding gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Nov. 6, at least 12 people came together at one of Wine Country's most posh bistros, The French Laundry, to celebrate the 50th birthday of Jason Kinney. The group featured people from several households, and was certainly above the state guidelines, which limit gatherings to no more than three households.
This comes at a time that the Governor and his administration are telling Californians to do everything they can to avoid crowds and parties, even with extended family members.
"We have the guidelines and the tips for a reason. We believe they are the strategies to keep ourselves and our communities safe and we hope and expect people to take them seriously," said California Heath Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
A spokesperson for Newsom said that the birthday dinner didn't violate state guidelines because it was held at an outdoor dining area of the facility.
Still, Newsom apologized and said he should have exercised better judgment.
“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner," Newsom's statement to KTVU said.
The state guidance has not specified if the three household limit applies to outdoor dining gatherings, an apparent loophole that doesn't clearly assign enforcement responsibilities to the county health dept, the dining establishment or the individuals who have gathered.
Under the state guidelines which were last updated on Oct. 9, gatherings that include more than three households are prohibited.
The state also requires that gatherings be held outside, where virus transmission is less likely, and recommends that they be kept to two hours or less.
Dr. and Professor John Swartzberg is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases and emeritus of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
"I don't think it's advisable. At a public restaurant, you're adding some risk to yourself because you don't know who the people around you are," Swartzberg said.
Swartzberg says that back on June 1, the nation was shocked and scared wen the number of daily cases reached 20,000.
On Thursday, we hit 160,000 daily cases just as the holidays are coming.
"It's eight times riskier today than is was then. So the holidays are coming up. This is a time when everybody, exhausted with COVID wants to be with people, wants to be with their loved ones, wants to celebrate. And, this is is the worst time in our entire pandemic to do those things," Swartzberg said.
In other words, says the doctor, it's just to risky right now.