Newsom said it's not about when we reopened, but rather how.
COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: Quiz yourself on the safest, most dangerous things you can do as California reopens
"Cases have been exploding around the state. Was there any realistic way to reopen some sectors of the economy and do you think your administration miscalculated in doing so? And the speed at which they opened restaurants, gymnasiums and fitness centers, for example?" a Los Angeles Times reporter asked the governor during his Monday press conference.
VIDEO: Governor Newsom talks about reopening California, counties on watch list
"I think we can safely reopen," said Newsom. "I think if we wear face coverings, we can mitigate the community spread of this disease. I think countries that have done that have proven that. We've been very forceful in our expectations and encouragement for people to do the same.
"It's a mandate."
Newsom said he believes the enforcement of mask wearing is best left up to local authorities. However, if local authorities aren't up to the task, he said the state is prepared to step in. He also reiterated this year's budget has $2.5 billion in local funding that could be withheld from counties that don't cooperate with health orders.
"We will redirect those dollars to communities that are (following health orders)," he said.
Last week, Newsom warned Californians to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines to avoid more mandatory closures. The governor ordered bars, indoor restaurants, movie theaters and more to close in 19 counties on a state watch list.
WATCH LIST: Counties where COVID-19 is getting worse
In the Bay Area, Contra Costa, Marin and Solano counties are on the watch list. Santa Clara was dropped from the list Monday.
The trends that prompted the ordered closures have only gotten worse. Another 5,699 people tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday. That brings the positivity rate, or the proportion of people tested for COVID-19 that end up positive, to a 7.2% average over the past week.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations have climbed 50% over the past two weeks and ICU admissions are up 39%.
The state tested a record 127,000 people on Saturday. California is now averaging more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests per day.
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