SLO County ends COVID-19 state of emergency

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

San Luis Obispo County officials on Friday morning terminated the county’s COVID-19 state of emergency that had been in place for nearly two years. 

The local health emergency declaration granted County Administrative Officer Wade Horton and County Health Director Dr. Penny Borenstein authority to manage the COVID-19 crisis, assign county employees to emergency service worker roles and streamline decisions aimed at protecting the community. The SLO County Board of Supervisors ratified the emergency declaration in March 2020, but several supervisors later regretted the vote after Horton and Borenstein initially refused to direction from or relinquish power back to the board.

On Friday morning, Horton and Borenstein signed documents terminating the state of emergency. The signed declarations will be presented to the board of supervisors at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday.

Upon ending the state of emergency, Horton issued a statement describing the past two years as divisive and pleading community members to be more graceful with each other in the future.

“I very much appreciate the county team, health care professionals, and volunteers who stepped up over a very challenging and divisive couple of years. I also understand the difficult impact the pandemic has had on our community,” Horton said in the statement. “Moving forward, I hope we can remember how to extend more grace toward one another as fellow community members as we face future challenges.”

Borenstein also issued a statement.

“While these declarations are no longer needed, the public health team and local health care providers continue to respond to this pandemic and provide resources, like vaccines and testing, to help residents protect their health and the health of the community.” Borenstein said. “We remain ready to respond to future surges.”

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