California governor criticized again for not wearing a mask

Jan 30, 2022, 11:32 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2022, 3:53 pm
This image from video provided by the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom  shows California Gov. Gavin ...

This image from video provided by the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom holding his face mask during a news conference in Los Angeles on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. Newsom is facing fresh criticism for his decision to shed his face mask. The latest scrutiny came after Earvin "Magic" Johnson tweeted a photo of himself with Newsom at the NFC championship game at SoFi Stadium. Newsom told reporters Monday in Los Angeles that he removed his mask only briefly for the photo with Johnson and was otherwise "very judicious" about keeping it in place. He indicated he also removed it occasionally to sip water. "The rest of the time, I wore it as we all should," he said. "I encourage everybody else to do so." (Office of Governor Gavin Newsom via AP, Pool)

(Office of Governor Gavin Newsom via AP, Pool)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing new criticism for shedding his face mask in public, rekindling a politically sensitive issue that has shadowed the Democratic governor since he was caught without a face covering at a 2020 party that defied his own pandemic safety orders.

The latest scrutiny came after basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson tweeted a photo of himself with the governor at the NFC championship game Sunday at SoFi Stadium near Los Angeles — both beaming smiles without masks.

Earlier this month, California health officials extended the state’s indoor mask mandate through Feb. 15, as omicron cases surged. At the stadium, ticket holders ages 5 and older must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test to enter. Under a Los Angeles County health order, masks are required at all times in the stadium unless a person is eating or drinking.

Newsom told reporters Monday in Los Angeles that he removed his mask only briefly for the photo with Johnson and was otherwise “very judicious” about keeping it in place. He indicated he also removed it occasionally to sip water.

“The rest of the time, I wore it as we all should,” he said. “I encourage everybody else to do so.”

Republicans saw the photograph as another example of hypocrisy, recalling the months of public shaming Newsom endured after he was caught mask-free at the 2020 birthday party at a luxury restaurant in Northern California. The event helped spur a recall effort that Newsom defeated in September.

The latest image of Newsom without a mask at a public place was criticized by Republican National Committee spokeswoman Hallie Balch, who said the “utter lack of respect that Democrats have for California citizens is appalling.”

She added: “California Democrats are hypocrites. When it comes to their own enjoyment, they violate state mandates as well as stadium mandates, which shows that they firmly believe their own rules don’t apply to them.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, apparently alluding to the Newsom photo, said in a statement, “Let’s do away with blanket COVID-19 masking policies – they don’t make a difference when they’re not consistently followed or enforced.”

“Masking rules set by the state and county weren’t followed consistently by everyone at yesterday’s NFC Championship,” she said. “I strongly believe individuals should be allowed to make an informed choice about whether to mask up or not.”

Newsom, when asked if he should have reconsidered removing the mask because of the message it would send, answered: “Of course. I was trying to be gracious.”

He added that he had it off for only a “brief second.”

However, photos circulating online show Newsom without mask at his seat — it’s dangling from his ear — appearing to challenge his statement he had it off for a “brief second.” It wasn’t clear why he had the mask off or for how long. But other photos show him wearing his mask at his seat.

Newsom spokeswoman Erin Mellon said in an email that “the governor acknowledged that he took off his mask for a few moments.”

In 2020, Newsom quickly apologized after it was disclosed he attended the birthday party — he called it a “bad mistake”– after lecturing state residents to spurn social gatherings and stay home as the pandemic raged. At the time, photographs showed Newsom and his wife, without masks, at a dinner table with friends and lobbyists.

On Monday, Newsom didn’t go that far. He said at one point, “I made a mis-” but never said the word “mistake.”

Johnson also tweeted a photo of himself at the stadium with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, both Democrats, all smiling and without masks. In the past Breed has been spotted in public settings without a mask, including at an indoor nightclub, despite public health department orders that require wearing masks at indoor establishments unless someone is eating or drinking.

Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said the mayor was wearing a mask throughout the game but “removed it for a brief moment to take a few photos.” Breed’s office did not immediately respond to a call and text requesting comment.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Bryson DeChambeau looks at his club after hitting his tee shot on the fourth hole during the final ...
Associated Press

3 tied for lead after 1st round of LIV Golf in Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Richard Bland, Branden Grace and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra upstaged their more-illustrious opponents on Friday to shoot 7-under 65s and share the lead after the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Bangkok. Marc Leishman and Ian Poulter were a stroke behind while Kim Sihwan, Brooks Koepka and Morgan Jediah were among those two […]
1 day ago
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico powers his car during first practice session for the Japanes...
Associated Press

Verstappen set to win a second straight F1 season title

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc knows it. So does anyone following Formula One; no calculators needed. Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen is set to win his second straight drivers’ title, and it’s likely to come on Sunday with rain predicted for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Friday’s two practice sessions were run in […]
1 day ago
Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II (25) and linebacker Zaire Franklin (44) celebrate after ...
Associated Press

Colts grind out 12-9 win over Broncos in injury-filled game

DENVER (AP) — Stephon Gilmore batted away Russell Wilson’s pass to Courtland Sutton in the end zone on fourth-and-1 from the 5 to give the Indianapolis Colts a 12-9 overtime victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night. Gilmore also intercepted Wilson’s pass in the fourth quarter to help set up Chase McLauglin’s tying field […]
1 day ago
Fans of Gimnasia de La Plata choke on tear gas during a local tournament match between Gimnasia de ...
Associated Press

Police, fans clash outside Argentine soccer match; 1 dead

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — At least one person died while police clashed with soccer fans trying to push into an Argentine league match Thursday night, and the referee stopped the game as clouds of tear gas spread inside the stadium. Authorities and witnesses said fans of the home team, Gimnasia y Esgrima, struggled to […]
1 day ago
Tom Hoge tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the Shriners Children's Open golf tour...
Associated Press

Tom Hoge rides a pair of eagles to 63, Las Vegas lead

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tom Hoge wanted to be sure to take advantage of pristine conditions Thursday morning in Las Vegas. He did more than he expected, making two eagles on his way to an 8-under 63 for a one-shot lead in the Shriners Children’s Open. One of the eagles came with a gap wedge […]
1 day ago
New York Mets' Francisco Lindor speaks during a news conference the day before a wild-card baseball...
Associated Press

Star-studded Padres and Mets square off in wild-card round

NEW YORK (AP) — For two teams that finished second fiddle in their divisions, the Padres and Mets bring an awful lot of star power into the playoffs. Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Yu Darvish on the San Diego side. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor for New York — just to name a […]
1 day ago
California governor criticized again for not wearing a mask