SLO County officials ask governor to ease coronavirus restrictions

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

With San Luis Obispo County having successfully flattened the coronavirus case curve and some residents demanding an end to the statewide shelter-in-place order, a bipartisan group of elected officials is petitioning Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow a phased reopening of SLO County.

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) authored a letter along with other local elected officials requesting the reopening. It appears Newsom is hesitant to grant the request, even as SLO County government officials prepare for a phased reopening.

Supervisors John Peschong and Debbie Arnold, as well as the mayors of all seven cities in SLO County, signed the letter to Newsom. The letter states the virus should not be taken lightly, but SLO County has had a declining coronavirus infection rate for more than three weeks.

Currently, there are 134 coronavirus cases in San Luis Obispo County and one death. Only one coronavirus patients is currently in the hospital.

In the letter to Newsom, local elected officials warn of severe economic impacts and subsequent public health problems stemming from a prolonged closure of much of the economy.

“According to the L.A. Times, more than 2.5 million Californians have filed for unemployment over the past month, and an economist has predicted a statewide unemployment rate near 20 percent within the next month. A prolonged recession is likely and becomes likelier each day we keep workers from making a living,” the letter states.

“We know that prolonged recessions cause dire public health issues of their own. According to a report by Harvard Public Health, recessions (and unemployment, in general) cause higher levels of chronic stress, which itself can give individuals a higher risk of heart disease, acute sleep deprivation, depression, decreased response to vaccines and an increase in smoking and drinking alcohol.”

Gavin Newsom

Local elected officials are requesting permission to implement the SLO County Roadmap for Reopening, a plan for a phased reopening that the county will unveil later this week. The reopening would include a robust testing regimen and would comply with both state and federal reopening guidelines, the letter states.

Newsom said he expects to receive more requests similar to the one from San Luis Obispo County. He said his administration will discuss each request with local officials, but he will make a “health-based decision.” [LA Times]

The governor also said, despite different areas of the state being affected differently, the “virus knows no jurisdiction, knows no boundaries. The virus could easily spread into neighboring counties if restrictions are eased prematurely, and there must be a statewide strategy to return to some sense of normalcy, Newsom said. 

A protest against Newsom extending the stay-at-home order took place outside the SLO County government center on Monday, in similar fashion to protests that have popped up elsewhere in California.

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