Gavin Newsom

Exclusive: Gov. Newsom Talks Cleaning Up California, Masks in Schools, Vaccine Rules

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NBC spoke with Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday about a host of topics, including his Clean California plan, face masks in schools and vaccine rules as COVID-19 moves from a pandemic to an endemic.

California's Response to COVID-19

A major announcement is expected next week regarding California's coronavirus plans as COVID-19 moves to an endemic stage.

"What's the community surveillance look like? What's the testing protocols look like? What does our preparedness strategies look like as it relates to mitigation?" Newsom said.

In other words, the state is working on how to learn to live with COVID-19.

Newsom said his team will have it all mapped out by next Thursday, including the future of mask wearing in schools.

"We are in the process of transforming our public education system and moving out of this pandemic mindset, and that includes masks," Newsom said. "That will happen. Question is when."

As far as the timeline for formally mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all students, Newsom said that is still a work in progress.

"The legislature is adjudicating their approach to it," he said. "We’ll see where we land on that over the course of the next few months."

New Project to Beautify California

The aim of Newsom's Clean California plan, a $300 million project, is to transform gateways from places full of garbage and homeless encampments, like the one on 5th and Bryant streets in San Francisco, into places with gardens, dog parks and art.

"This site, when I was mayor, was my pet peeve," Newsom said. "I was screaming and yelling with the state. They didn’t budge. They didn’t do a damn thing. And now we’ve finally got the money."

Nearly 130 other sites across the state will get a similar transformation this year.

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