Gov. Gavin Newsom shares his ‘worst fear’ about reopening California

Gov. Newsom discusses reopening his state, his biggest concerns protecting Californians and President Trump’s executive order targeting Twitter and other social media platforms.
9:16 | 05/29/20

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Transcript for Gov. Gavin Newsom shares his ‘worst fear’ about reopening California
have had so much grimness this week. 100,000 deaths in the country. We know the virus isn't going away any time soon. I want -- I would love to know what you think we can do to take solace right now in where we are things have gotten a bit better. You've done an amazing job in California. My family lives there. So what are you taking solace in? I think just a deeper understanding of a novel virus, but also we're deeply humbled by what we don't know, and I think that's a frame of reference all of us have to bring in to this next phase as we start to reopen our economy to recognize that we are walking in, venturing in to the unknown, the untested, and we have to be open to argument, interested in evidence. We can't be ideological about how we conduct ourselves, but fundamentally as a nation, certainly as a state, California, we are more prepared than we were certainly eight weeks ago, more capable and more confident in our capacity to get through this and recover and thrive once again. Governor, trump is in a feud with Twitter because they finally fact-checked a couple of his tweets where he made false claims about voter fraud and attacked you specifically for your plan to send mail-in ballots to California voters, but trump's not the only one pushing this. The Republican party is suing you over your plan and called it illegal, and an illegal power grab. How are you going to fight back and make sure that Americans can vote safely in November? It's crucial. Yeah. Let me contextualize because it goes to whoopi's point as well. We're involved with over 70 lawsuits with the trump administration including filing a lawsuit yesterday on a foundational issue related to low carbon green growth in our climate policies here in the state of California and their efforts to roll them back, the administration's. As it relates to voting, we believe we should not substitute people's public health and safety as it relates to their right -- their constitutional right to vote. Five states do this. Utah hardly a liberal-leaning state has done it for years. Colorado, other states, quite safely and appropriately, and the state of California under these circumstances where we, again, will likely enter into the fall season, flu season and the possibility that covid begins to flare back up, we want to provide the opportunity, the alternative for people to safely vote by mail, particularly those seniors, Meghan was talking about a moment ago that were vulnerable to this virus. We want to encourage them in a safe manner. We think that's just foundational and fundamental to any great democracy. Do you think there was -- that Twitter should not check -- fact-check our president? Do you think that's actually a slippery slope, or do you think that's reasonable if it's your company? Yeah, I mean it's a private company, publicly held, but a private company so there's different rules of engagement. The reality is, remember the tweet that started this. It was a tweet attacking me and falsely claiming -- it's not even controversial because it's so flagrantly untrue that we have sent out ballots to every living californian regardless of quote/unquote how they got here. That's just untrue, and so it was an easy one to fact-check, but I agree. Look, you get down that slippery it was inevitable how the president would respond to that. This is a fight he wants not only with Twitter, but a fight on mail-in ballots and in so many ways, we're in sort of perfect shape in terms of how we react oftentimes to what the president is trying to do. He knows exactly what he's trying to do. There's a reason he's president of the United States, and it's a deflecting tool, but it's also a mobilizing tool for his base. So we have to, again, walk through this next process of how we respond with that, eyes wide open with that inmind. Governor, I know from my friends in California, they're very happy at the job that you have been doing so far which is more than I can say for my friends in New York. So I want to congratulate you that you have done a really great balance of keeping californians safe, but slowly starting to reopen in a responsible way in California. Coronavirus cases are still on the rise and they hit the 100,000 mark in your state. You said, quote, we are walking into the unknown. What are your biggest concerns at the moment as you balance this reopening of your state and protecting residents from covid? We're, again, not focused on the data and addressing the reality at the local level in realtime. It was really interesting, Meghan. We decided to begin a phased in approach in this state where we give the tools to local health directors to make decisions that are in the best interest of those local communities. We had one community that moved forward deeper into a phase in California. To their credit, they just put the brakes on that reopening because they saw an increase in cases. At's the approach that we need to take in this state. We need to be moving forward, but soberly, eyes wide open and as evidence presents itself, we need to be able to pull those brakes and pull back, but my biggest fear is amnesia. My biggest fear is we forget the reality of the last eight weeks, nine, ten weeks in this state and in thisnation, and we put ourselves at risk and don't even recognize we're not even out of the first wave of this pandemic. Governor, you know, houses of worship are among places you did allow to reopen this week, but just days after -- just days after that, the president threatened to override any governor who kept them closed. There has been at least two recent outbreaks tied to in-person church services in your state. One exposed up to 180 people. So why now? Did the mounting pressure from the president affect your decision and the department of justice also? No. Quite the contrary. We were working with faith leaders across the state over the course of the last many, many weeks to put out guidelines to safely begin to reopen with deep modifications. Those modifications include caps in terms of attendance, 25% or 100 people or less. You're right. In butte county, California, regardless of health guidelines and directives, they opened up a church, 180 individuals and one immediately tested positive because they flagrantly went forward without any consideration of any people's public health safety or guidelines. We now have guidelines and hope people will do this in a thoughtful and methodical way, and we're getting blowback from the other side and saying 25% doesn't accommodate us, particularly for the megachurches. This is all imperfect. Perfect is not on the menu. We're trying our best to accommodate people's faiths, needs, businesses' needs to reopen, and people's desire to get back out, and do so safely. I'm sobered and humbled by all of this because it is a daunting challenge for governors all across the political spectrum all across the country. So unemployment in California according to your own numbers, is at a staggering 20% which is your estimate which is even higher than the national rate. You warned our first responders will be the first ones laid off if you can't get federal aid from the government. Now congress is at a standstill over yet another stimulus package, and Mitch Mcconnell is in no rush. He says he'll get to the bill next month or so. Where does that leave you? Well, it's one thing -- forget me. As you say, it's about our heroes, and we can't just play claim to embracing our heros. We've got to deliver what we're preaching which means have their backs. They have had ours. It's not just police and fire, but those frontline health care workers that finally we're looking in the eyes and giving thanks to. They are vulnerable. Cities and counties are vulnerable to the economic downturn with massive budget deficits that have occurred directly because of covid-19. This is why you need a federal government not for charity, but social responsibility to help support the states and these municipaliies during this difficult time, and if we do that, the economy will rebound. The gdp will grow, and we'll be able to work ourselves through the biggest mistake we can make is not recognizing the magnitude of those numbers. Again, these are depression-era unemployment numbers. This is what a federal government must do, is meet the moment Mitch Mcconnell and congress has that opportunity.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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