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California GovernorGavin Newsom has compared unvaccinated individuals to drunk drivers.
He appeared on CNN to discuss the recent spike in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant. As US health authorities are considering re-instating mask guidelines even for vaccinated adults due to the surge of cases, Mr Newsom claimed that individuals who refused to take the vaccine posed a risk to the public similar to drunk driving.
“It’s like drunk drivers, you don’t have the right to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else at risk including your own life,” Mr Newsom said.
He was asked if California needed to consider reinstating a universal mask mandate to stop the spread of the Delta variant.
“Look we don't even have to have that debate if we can just get everybody vaccinated that isn't vaccinated, that's refusing to get vaccinated, that's living vaccine free and impacting the rest of us,” he said.
California's vaccination rate is one of the highest in the country, with more than half of its adult population fully vaccinated. However, Mr Newsom said even with the high rate of vaccinated individuals cases were still spiking in his state.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is much more contagious than the virus that kicked off the US portion of the pandemic last year. Health officials report that virtually all new cases of the coronavirus are among the unvaccinated.
Doctors on social media have also been sharing horror stories of unvaccinated individuals suffering from the virus pleading with them to give them the vaccine just before they are intubated, which is often a precursor to death.
“We're really trying to focus on ending this pandemic once and for all,” he said. “Those non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings and face masking were necessary in the absence of vaccines, but with these vaccines we can extinguish this virus once and for all and get it behind us.”
Approximately half of the adult US population is fully vaccinated.
Mr Newsom's comments will likely enrage Republicans in his state, who are already on the warpath to have him recalled.
This September, Mr Newsom will face a recall election driven by the state's Republican leaders. Much of the ire directed at him is rooted in restrictions he put in place aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus throughout the state.
Mr Newsom has largely dismissed the recall effort as political manoeuvring by Donald Trump loyalists in the Republican districts of California.