Newsom tells Facebook's Zuckerberg that coronavirus testing has been an 'area of frustration'

California Gov. Gavin Newsom chats with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a live broadcast on the social network.

Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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Queenie Wong
2 min read

California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan about the state's coronavirus efforts.

Screenshot by Queenie Wong/CNET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday that the lack of coronavirus testing has been "an area of frustration," even as private companies step up to lend a helping hand.

Last week, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative -- a philanthropic organization run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan -- said it was partnering with the state to increase coronavirus testing capacity in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group is working with UCSF to support at least 1,000 tests a day in the coming days.

"You're a demonstrable example of what's happening across the state, but candidly, not at the scale that we're going to need it," Newsom said during a 30-minute interview conducted by Zuckerberg and Chan. "This has been an area of frustration for me as governor."

The California governor is the second interview Zuckerberg has conducted about coronavirus efforts. Last week, Zuckerberg interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases. Facebook has been trying to direct people to more trustworthy sources and recently launched a coronavirus information center that appears at the top of people's News Feeds.

California lags behind other states when it comes to getting people tested for the novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19. Symptoms of the illness include a fever and cough. ABC7 Eyewitness News, which analyzed data from the COVID Tracking Project and state health departments, reported last week that California ranks 46th in the country for the rate of completed COVID-19 tests and is far behind other states, including New York.

"This is an area where we have to do more and we have to do better," Newsom said. California has 22 labs that were never designed for the amount of testing required during a pandemic, he said. Coronavirus testing kits were also missing chemical reagents so the state couldn't run as many tests as it wanted. Then, there were other problems, including with specimen sample collection, he said.

"It's not an excuse," he said. "It's just to punctuate that a lot of what we see as headlines and a lot of what we're hearing on the news, it's not as good as it may sound."

Some people are promoting new technology that could help increase the amount of testing, he said, but that could take weeks or months.

"For us to ultimately decide who could go back to work..we have to exponentially scale the testing regimes," he said.

Newsom also encouraged the public to continue social distancing. His remarks come on the same day that San Francisco's shelter-in-place order was extended to at least May 1.

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