SACRAMENTO, Calif. — New photographs made public Tuesday of Gov. Gavin Newsom attending a dinner party in Napa earlier this month are raising new questions about what really happened.
On Monday, Newsom apologized for the incident during a tier update press conference.
“It was in Napa, which was in the Orange status, relatively loose compared to some other counties,” Newsom explained, referring to the Nov. 6 dinner at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa. “It was to be an outdoor restaurant.”
However, the pictures, unveiled by Fox 11 Los Angeles, show the governor sitting down at a table in a room called The Board Room, according to the French Laundry restaurant’s website. Newsom is seen sitting down at this table with members of multiple different households, all without masks.
“And so I want to apologize to you,” Newsom said at the Monday press conference, “Because I need to preach and practice, not just preach.”
ABC10 political strategist Steve Swatt reacted to the incident.
“The governor and the medical community have been urging more vigilance and they urge that we not go out and socialize with individuals not in our immediate family,” said Swatt. “The governor is supposed to set an example and this doesn’t help.”
Still, Swatt acknowledged the apology and said it was the right thing to do.
“It would have been helpful for him to make this admission before it came out -- before he got caught -- but still, he did apologize and he’s trying to move on,” Swatt said.
ABC10’s health expert Dr. Payal Kohli disagreed with the assertion the event was outdoors.
“That is definitely not an outdoor space,” said Dr. Kohli emphatically. “That is an indoor space with one open wall. So the advantage is of course that you’re getting some fresh air in to dilute some of the recirculated air but this is definitely an indoor space.”
She said some people forget how significant indoor versus outdoors is for our health.
“Keep in mind that the virus spreads 19 times more efficiently indoors than it does outdoors,” Dr. Kohli said. “On top of that, add in the cold weather, add in the possible air conditioning or ventilation that can also carry those droplets, and you really have the perfect recipe for spreading this virus.”
Dr. John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health division of infectious diseases also reacted.
“Newsom knows better,” Dr. Swartzberg said. “He’s advising the public on what to do and he wouldn’t advise the public to do what he did.”
He says Newsom should have been chastised, and he was.
“He made a mistake,” Dr. Swartzberg said. “He apologized for it. We all make mistakes. It’s just, it’s unfortunate when a leader does that.”
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