California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has been under fire since attending a November 6th birthday party. Even as cases in California and across the US skyrocket and Newsom himself enacts stricter precautions for his state, Newsom was seen out and about at a restaurant with a large group of mask-less people. The group celebrated without care to risk, the image it presented to an anxious public, or how it made Newsom appear to be a, “do as I say, not as I do,” leader.
The November 6th Party
According to pictures obtained by Fox 11, no one who attended the party took any sort of precaution. While the party was supposedly held outdoors, no one was seen social distancing or wearing a mask. And the images throw into doubt Newsom’s defense that the party was outdoors, since it appears that the location is fully enclosed, and the only “outdoor” component was a pair of double doors, leading outside. Reports from witnesses at the scene also say that the doors were eventually closed because Newsom’s group was so loud and raucous.
Per Fox 11, on speaking with the woman from whom they obtained pictures of the event, “‘While we were there we realized there was a very loud party going on in a room 20 feet from us. It was a bit annoying since you’re spending hard-earned money to go there.’
She said, ‘It got louder and louder and so they had some sliding glass doors that they were able to close, so then it was a closed-off room but you could still hear them with how loud they were.’
‘I just happened to look over and realize hey is that Gavin Newsom, who is that? And I did ask one of the waitresses and she confirmed it was, so I was able to take a couple of photos, I was able to document this especially since nobody was wearing a mask. It was a very large group of people shoulder to shoulder, something that he’s always telling us not to do so yeah it was a bit annoying for sure’, the woman said.”
Newsom Tries to Apologize
In a press conference following the backlash over his attendance at the party, Newsom tried to apologize. Per KTVU, “‘I gotta own that. I want to apologize to you,’ the Golden State governor said. ‘I need to preach and practice, not just preach. I’ve done my best to do that. We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.’
California was the first state to issue stay at home orders back in March when the virus was making its initial spread through the country. Newsom said that since February he’s only dined out three times, twice with his wife outdoors and the third being the Napa birthday outing.
During the question and answer portion of his briefing, Newsom was asked if he’s worried people won’t take his warnings as seriously now and instead see him as less of a moral authority.
‘Yeah, I am. That’s why you have to own it and you have to be forthright. I’ve been doing my best every single day, trying to model better behavior. I made one mistake. I should have gotten up.’”
As Cases Surge, Leadership Literally Out to Lunch
For most, Newsom’s apology is too little, far too late. How can residents take the pandemic seriously when those privy to the most up-to-date information show through their actions that it’s not a big deal? Or, more poignantly, are they expecting a different set of rules for different people? As the case with outgoing President Donald J Trump and members of Congress who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19 against the odds given their ages and risk factors, the stark divide between people’s means has been highlighted anew.
Perhaps those with access to the best healthcare and the most up-to-date therapies can afford to risk catching the virus, but the average American worker risks debt or financial ruin. It behooves leaders like Newsom to live what they preach, and show through their actions just how important the precautions are. In a state like California where the number of cases is now in the millions and deaths in the tens of thousands, leadership is needed that puts the virus into grave perspective and leads from the front. Perhaps a chastened Newsom will do better from here. His constituents desperately need him to, and deserve better.