SAN FRANCISCO - During a stop in the Bay Area to promote vaccines and COVID booster shots, Gov. Gavin Newsom sat down with KTVU political reporter Greg Lee for a wide-ranging interview.
CONCERN ABOUT WINTER COVID SURGE
Newsom visited a community vaccination site, urging people to get their shots and boosters, especially before holiday travel.
"We have 27 examples of states that have seen double digit increases in just the last few weeks. Twenty seven states, 10 plus percent increase in cases. We’re not immune from that, we experienced last year, extraordinary increase in a very short period of time. People around this time of year just began to appreciate the winter was going to be more challenging than the summer. That said, as you suggest, the last week or so, we’ve seen some stability. In fact, today, dropped below 2% positivity, now the lowest positivity in the country at 1.9%. But, this thing can go fast and that’s why we have to deal with waning immunity, get the boosters, get those that have not gotten the first dose, still the most powerful dose, that first dose of vaccine. Get that vaccine and stay vigilant, and if we can get through this winter, I think we’re going to be in a different place, I feel much more optimistic than I ever have in this pandemic."
IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY VACCINATION SITES
"We realized the mass sites don’t deal with the equity issues as effectively as pop up sites like this, partnerships with community clinics. Partnerships that allow people to feel confident and feel that they…places they’re familiar with. Places they have real trust: school sites are profoundly important. The vast majority now.. vast majority of boosters are actually being administered by pharmacies, there’s’ a been a huge take up, and there’s an abundance. Not at every pharmacy, we’ve had some scarcity this week, but there’s an abundance of vaccines, they’ll move through that supply chain. We’re just looking at more opportunities for more points of contact available. We’re in a totally different place than when we opened up those Alameda sites and those other sites near Dodger stadium."
FIGHTING THE SPREAD OF VACCINE DISINFORMATION
"People are knowingly lying to the American people to advance a political agenda, it’s disgraceful. Putting people quite literally, their lives at risk, their family lives at risk. It’s disgraceful. I know it very well, knowingly lying, it’s not just misinformation, it’s intentional misleading people in ways that have had grave consequence. We’ve got to call that out, we’ve got to keep pushing back against it. Let me tell you, just specifically what the state is doing: we’ve got a whole team of people, that literally are scouring the internet and social media and pushing back and literally doing aggressive retorts the whole team that’s continuing to grow within the Department of Public Health. In order to do our best to battle it, but it’s overwhelming that mis- and disinformation."
EXTENDING PARTS OF EMERGENCY POWERS
Last week, the governor extended parts of his emergency powers through March, citing COVID threats. The state of emergency began in March 2020—the extended order sparked criticism.
"By the way, we have states of emergency that are open for a decade: Camp Fire, state of emergency--after emergencies, they persist and exist for years and years. As it relates to what I just extended, very limited, very targeted, to staffing flexibility. Contract staffing and waivers for staffing for hospitals and for allowing more mobile vaccine clinics like you just saw. To not do that and put at risk federal funding would be malpractice."
CRIME, SMASH-AND-GRAB RETAIL THEFTS, STATE’S ROLE
The governor’s visit comes as stores around the Bay Area are cleaning up after a series of smash-and-grab retail thefts. He calls them "unacceptable" and said the state’s retail task force is working with local law enforcement to share information. In addition, to increasing CHP presence in the area.
"Everybody’s got to step things up, we need to see more law enforcement, see more deterrents, more presence. You’ve seen more, you’ll see even more CHP officers out on the roads. We have conducted since July, we initiated, we didn’t wait for this weekend. In July, we extended and reconstituted our retail theft task force, partnerships with CHP, and cities and counties up and down the state. I did that with the big 13 mayors, largest cities in the states and their police chiefs. We’ve done partnerships all around the Bay Area: 773 investigations, 100s of arrests, 10s of millions of dollars recovered in that process. We’re going to increase the personnel, increase our data sharing."
"You’re going to see an increased presence. We did that Saturday and Sunday, you’re seeing it on 680, you’re seeing it on SR4. You’re going to see it in and around large shopping malls and centers, going to continue to work collaboratively to address these organized efforts and call them out. They need to be held to account, this is unconscionable behavior. Its impact is well beyond the victim: the business. We’re all victimized because there’s a level of distrust, lack of confidence in public safety that is inherent in what’s happening. We need to be more aggressive."
"We’ve written hundreds of millions of dollars in checks across the spectrum on issues, homelessness, issues around housing, billions of dollars, we need to see accountability in terms of the application of those dollars, and we need to see results of the issues of quality of life are real in this state."