Gov. Newsom defends California’s coronavirus response after Elon Musk rant

Tesla chief said California's shelter-in-place was violation of Americans' constitutional rights

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t second-guessing himself over the state’s handling of the coronavirus despite an expletive-filled rant from Tesla CEO Elon Musk calling the shelter-in- place orders a violation of Americans' constitutional rights.

“Good people can disagree, and we've been guided by science, data [and] facts not only on the ground here in the state of California, across this country, but guided by the prevalence of this disease around the rest of the world,” Newsom said during a livestreamed coronavirus briefing Thursday.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty)

The majority of Tesla’s U.S. manufacturing is in the Bay Area, which has seen production shuttered through the end of May due to the coronavirus. On Tesla’s earnings call, Musk slammed government officials for what he viewed as draconian measures.

"The extent of shelter in place or, frankly what I would call it, forcibly imprisoning people in their homes is against all their constitutional rights...and erasing people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country, what the f--k," Musk lamented before excusing himself for the curse.

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Newsom is confident California has the opportunity to move into a phased reopening of its economy soon but warned that behavior not consistent with social distancing guidelines may hamper those plans, specifically the packed crowds on California's beaches in recent days.

"The images we saw on a few of our beaches were disturbing," Newsom said.

People crowd the beach Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Huntington Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

While the vast majority of people were doing "all the right things," beaches in Orange County specifically "raised alarm bells." As a result, Newsom announced those beaches will temporarily be shut down until further notice.

“Orange County has been on our list of health concerns and they’ve done a wonderful job down there. I just think we can tighten that up a little bit. So we’re going to have a temporary pause down there,” Newsom said. "If we can get some framework and guidelines to get this right, we can reopen very, very quickly but we've got to make sure we can get this right."

He noted the closure is "not an indictment of the people who want to go to the beach", stressing his main priority is to keep people safe.

"My job as governor is to keep you safe," Newsom said. "If we promote another weekend like we had, then I have to make this adjustment."


According to Newsom, an additional 95 people in California died from the coronavirus Wednesday. The state saw a 5.2 percent increase for a total of 48,917 confirmed coronavirus cases.

While he acknowledged that the curve is flattening, he believes it's important to keep social distancing and the stay-at-home order in place to ensure California makes it through the pandemic successfully.

“Why undo all the great progress? Let’s move this state forward together,” Newsom said.


There are more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 62,000 deaths in the United States, according to the latest update by Johns Hopkins University.