California Counties Plan Reopening in Defiance of Governor

Posted: May 02, 2020 4:50 PM
California Counties Plan Reopening in Defiance of Governor

Source: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is losing control of the state. Despite a plea to residents to ignore the sunshine and stay inside, Californians packed the beaches in Southern California last weekend. The governor retaliated by forcing city beaches to close down, but the cities voted only hours later to fight back against what they consider to be an unconstitutional overreach by the governor. Now, counties in Northern California are openly defying the governor by moving forward with their own plans to reopen. 

Earlier this week, Modoc County announced businesses will begin to reopen while also practicing reasonable safety measures, such as reduced seating capacity at restaurants. Modoc County was the first to defy Newsom's stricter plans to reopen slowly at some unspecified time in the future. Now, two more Northern California counties -- Yuba County and neighboring Sutter County -- are following suit. 

Yuba-Sutter Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu announced in a statement on Friday that certain lower-risk businesses may begin to reopen with appropriate modifications. 

"Proximity and duration of exposure to COVID-19, and not whether a business is considered ‘essential’ to government infrastructure, should guide the decision making regarding what types of businesses and organizations should be allowed to initially open," Dr. Luu said in the statement. 

Businesses eligible for reopening in the two counties are businesses that are low to medium risk for contact intensity and low to medium risk for the number of contacts. According to the statement, contact intensity relates to how long close contact occurs. The eligible businesses must incorporate appropriate safety measures to help prevent COVID-19 infections and publish those measures for the public and their employees. 

In addition to the soft reopening, residents of Yuba and Sutter Counties will be required to wear face masks when proper social distancing is not possible. Both orders take effect on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m.

"COVID-19 is dangerous and scary but it is not the only health issue," Dr. Luu said. "We cannot wait for a vaccine without seeing extreme economic damage done to our community. The consequences of waiting will be additional health concerns brought on by stress and the very real dilemma for those with limited resources whether to buy life-saving food or life-saving medicines. As the Bi-County Health Officer, I have to think of the totality of health for the entire community."

Dr. Luu said the intent of the orders is to comply with both Newsom's stay-at-home order and the president's "Opening Up America Again" guidelines while also considering the economic and health realities of the two counties.

“The new local order places a lot of responsibility on the citizens and business owners of Yuba and Sutter counties to make good decisions,” Dr. Luu said. “Please don’t take the change of rules in the new order as a signal we are out of the woods and to act irresponsibly. On the contrary, please respect the new order, please respect the rules established by businesses so that they can open under the order, please respect your fellow citizens by practicing social distancing and wearing facial coverings where you cannot maintain six feet of space from others.”

The orders will be continually reviewed and can be modified at any time, Dr. Luu added. 

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