Home U.S Newsom holds first in-person press conference since March as recall nears threshold

Newsom holds first in-person press conference since March as recall nears threshold

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday held his first in-person press conference since last March when he first enacted a statewide order for nearly 40 million residents “to stay at home” amid the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday’s press conference in the state’s capital comes as the Democratic governor faces the likely prospect of a recall election over his draconian response to the pandemic.

FILE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom gives his coronavirus update at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif. (AP)

FILE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom gives his coronavirus update at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif. (AP)

The recall campaign was initially dismissed as yet another doomed-to-fail effort by far-right and conspiracy theorist types trying to oust the governor. But the effort picked up mainstream support after the governor was caught attending a lobbyist’s birthday party at the high-end French Laundry restaurant, despite having told Californians to spurn social gatherings.

Newsom’s critics – Republicans and Democrats – have called out his administration for its lack of transparency throughout the pandemic. Even as California last month was emerging from its worst surge of cases, Newsom’s administration refused to disclose the data on which it was basing its policy decisions. State health officials said they rely on a complex set of measurements that would confuse and potentially mislead the public if they were made public.

Recall Gavin 2020, the main organization behind the recall, say they have collected more than 1.72 million signatures – roughly 300,000 more than the threshold to qualify for a ballot. Organizers are aiming to collect about 2 million signatures to compensate for the signatures that will inevitably be invalidated. 

At Tuesday’s press conference, Newsom announced a $7.6 billion coronavirus relief package that will give at least $600 one-time payments to 5.7 million people while setting aside more than $2 billion in grants for struggling small businesses.

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California’s stimulus package will give up to $25,000 grants to small businesses with revenues between $1,000 and $2.5 million. Most people will get the $600 payments by claiming the California earned income tax credit on their state tax returns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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