LOS ANGELES - “I think we could have waited another month… but as you know, it’s always very easy to be smart in hindsight.”
As California has morphed into a COVID-19 hotspot, with more than 530,000 confirmed cases, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson that he thinks the state, led by Governor Gavin Newsom, may have reopened too quickly.
“He opened up businesses maybe quicker than we should have because then it backfired and coronavirus came right back like gangbusters,” Schwarzenegger said of California’s decision to start a phased-reopening of the economy back in May. “Now, I think we've learned from that and maybe we have to pull back and wait until the numbers come down."
“That’s what other countries did, they waited until the [coronavirus] rate went down a considerable amount, and the death rate also.”
Citing the progress of South Korea, France, Germany, and others that have enacted more uniform national responses, Schwarzenegger, who is normally a proponent of states’ rights, said politics, not science, has driven various state and local responses in the US, leaving the nation unable to enact a unified strategy.
“In America we have different laws, we have state laws, and then we have city laws, and county laws, so you get into a situation where on a federal level they say wear a mask, and the states can make up their own minds,” he hypothesized. “It’s not just one person’s fault, this is kind of a systemic kind of a problem that we have where the whole nation did not come together.”
As a result of those disparate approaches, the United States, which represents roughly 4% of the global population, has experienced some 22% of the world’s coronavirus deaths.
At home in California, Schwarzenegger praised Governor Newsom’s overall leadership during the pandemic, saying that while his response has not been free of mistakes, Newsom has done “a great job,” being inclusive of voices and viewpoints from both sides of the aisle.
Back in April, Schwarzenegger joined business leaders like Bob Iger and Tim Cook, as well as former CA governors Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, and Jerry Brown, as part of Newsom’s economic revival task force led by businessman Tom Steyer.
In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Schwarzenegger also discussed race relations in America, his relationship with Congresswoman, and potential VP pick, Karen Bass (D-CA), celebrating his 73rd birthday alongside his family, and the need to wear face coverings.
Schwarzenegger is currently selling “We’ll be Back” masks to benefit struggling parents and students through his “After-School All-Stars” non-profit.
“The bottom line is that I am a big believer in masks, and wearing a mask, if everyone wears a mask, we protect each other from coronavirus,” Schwarzenegger said. “You just have to think about this stuff day and night, because you can catch it anywhere… it’s out there, and you just have to be very careful.”
The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30PM and Sundays at 9:30AM. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.