At the April 20 SLO County Public Health COVID-19 briefing, county officials stated their intent to create a phased plan to reopen.
- Photo By Peter Johnson
- RELAXING RESTRICTIONS SLO County Officials cite low COVID-19 cases and considerable amounts of testing as it's reasoning to initiate a phased reopening plan.
The initiative is due, according to County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein, to the county's low number of positive COVID-19 cases and a considerable amount of testing done through the public and private sectors.
"Together we've accomplished what we originally set out to do with our shelter-at-home program. That was to flatten the curve for COVID-19 cases and to establish and open the Cal Poly alternate care site to accommodate patients if local hospitals reached their capacity," SLO County 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton said at the briefing.
She said the local shelter-at-home order that went into effect March 19 was continued until May 16, giving county officials maximum local control, keeping more essential services open, and "some latitude to interpret" the governor's order.
"As such, I'm pleased to announce that based on the current epidemiological situation that we have in our county, our team of medical experts in epidemiology and disease management believe they can relax some of our current county standards and restrictions in place and still stay under the umbrella of the governor's order," Compton said.
Over the course of the next week, county officials are collaborating with REACH, formerly known as the Hourglass Project, on a roadmap for a phased reopening. Insight from industries, community leaders, and a panel of medical experts will help provide more clarity on how the guidelines will be implemented. County supervisors and local mayors will oversee the entire project.
On the same day as the briefing, Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom requesting he reopen SLO County's economy "under a local order developed in concurrence with the county's public health official."
Newsom addressed the calls from local governments for reopening during his April 20 briefing by stating that the restrictions will remain in place. However, the Newsom administration will announce its guidelines on a slow reopening.
"I know how impatient people are, but again, I just cannot express more gratitude for the incredible and heroic work all of you have done to soften the blow of this virus so far in the state of California. Again, let's not dream of regretting and pulling the plug too early," he said.
Ventura County recently modified its shelter-at-home order by opening some parks, slowly opening non-essential businesses, and allowing small gatherings. Newsom said his administration is concerned that one county's decisions to relax restrictions could effect its neighboring county.
"The virus knows no jurisdiction, knows no boundaries," Newsom said.
He said there is a cap in terms of loosening restrictions on the local level.
"But we, as I expressed more broadly, want to see that done in concert with the state of California, legally and otherwise, in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation," he said.
The governor acknowledged the push to reopen but cautioned that other parts of the world that relaxed restrictions too soon, such as Singapore, were impacted by a second wave of the virus.
SLO County officials said the county is restoring elective surgeries and chronic disease management, animal welfare and grooming (both mobile and in-house grooming), and recreational fishing. Δ