Newsom Attended a French Party with Top Lobbyist Amid Coronavirus Surge

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California Governor Gavin Newsom is the subject of criticism after he reportedly attended a dinner party despite the recent surge of coronavirus cases in the state. 

On November 6, Newsom attended a birthday party for a political adviser at the famed French Laundry in Napa County. The party, which brought together at least 12 people from several households, celebrated Jason Kinney’s 50th birthday. The dinner party was held even after his administration discouraged large gatherings. 

Kinney is a longtime friend and adviser of the governor. He also serves as Newsom’s partner at Axiom Advisors, a lobbying firm. The governor’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, had also attended the party, the San Franciso Chronicle reported. 

According to California’s coronavirus restrictions, gatherings or social situations that bring together people from different households should be limited to no more than three households. While representatives for Kinney and Newsom refused to reveal how many households had gathered in the party, they did not decline that it was more than three. 

Nathan Click, Newsom’s communications director, initially defended Newsom’s attendance at the dinner party. He reiterated that the birthday celebration took place outdoors, which followed separate coronavirus safety guidelines. 

However, the governor made a public apology on Monday where he reiterated that he showed poor judgment in attending the celebration, Politico reported.

“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 said. “I made a bad mistake. I should have stood up and … drove back to my house.”

Throughout the pandemic, Newson has urged Californians to follow strict coronavirus safety protocols, including social distancing, wearing face masks, and avoiding large gatherings. He redoubled his calls for residents to take precautions as coronavirus rates in the state have risen. 

“It’s for obvious reasons. People are letting their guard down. They’re taking their masks off. They’re starting to get together outside of their household cohorts. They’re starting to see businesses reopen and we’re starting, again, to see more people mixing. As it gets colder, we’ll see more still,” Newsom said. 

The Democratic governor imposed new restrictions during his press conference on Tuesday. Under the latest rules, 41 of the state’s 58 counties will move back into the strictest of the four-tier system for reopening ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Los Angeles Times reported.  

Counties that have fallen back into the purple tier include Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Kern, and San Luis Obispo. They will be joining Los Angeles, San Bernandino, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial counties. 

The most populated counties in the Bay Area were also pushed back to the purple tier. This includes Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano. All eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley are also in the purple tier. 

Counties across the state’s Central Coast and most of the areas in Sacramento County are also back in the purple tier. 

“We are sounding the alarm,” the governor said. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”

The new restrictions come after California has seen the steepest rise in coronavirus cases. Over a week that ended Sunday, the state averaged 7,985 cases per day. The rate nearly doubled in the recent two weeks. 

On Monday, state health officials reported 2,795 new coronavirus cases. The United States has recorded more than 11.2 million cases since the pandemic began.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.