Santa Rosa, CA – June 1, 2020 – Together, we are experiencing something not seen in a century – a pandemic that has required the lockdown of our communities, our gathering centers and much of our economy. Today, we are faced with the daunting task of how best to phase in the reopening of our communities, while respecting the fact that the challenges faced by each and every one of us is unique.
Sonoma County is well-positioned with a bright and committed leadership team, each of whom brings unique perspective and issue-area knowledge to the table. Just as in other emergencies we have faced in recent years, we know that transparency and working together are key to successfully navigating such challenges.
Though we have been extremely successful at “flattening the curve” in Sonoma County due to an early, aggressive shelter-in-place order, we are certainly not out of the woods yet. We have lost four lives. We know that the impact on the Latinx community, the elderly, and those with existing health challenges has been far greater than the rest of the population. It is incumbent on each of us to take measures that protect everyone in our community.
As in any complex situation, there are additional threats that must be considered – including public safety issues that arise out of a prolonged economic shutdown. We do not yet know the full impact on mental health, economic distress, extended family support, and child abuse. Law enforcement has already seen a marked increase in attempted suicides, domestic violence and child endangerment. These impacts must factor into our decision-making process and policy priorities as well.
We will convene a Sonoma County Economic Recovery Taskforce (SCERT) focused on shifting our County from a broad, stay-at-home model that is based on essential/non-essential activity, to a risk-based model that weighs all available data. The Board of Supervisors, Department of Health Services and Economic Development Board has begun this work.
The Board of Supervisors and the Public Health Officer have been clear that the goal is to align Sonoma County’s Shelter in Place Order with State Guidelines – in content and timeline. Last week, Sonoma County experienced a surge in COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations that delayed that process.
This is a new week, and brings us the renewed opportunity to transition towards a risk-based approach.
But we recognize that County leadership cannot and should not exist in a vacuum. The County acknowledges that it is critical to have a diverse array of leaders around the virtual table in order to carry this essential work forward. In a coordinated effort aimed at facilitating a safe economy and society in the pandemic era, we will include voices from small business, labor, law enforcement, Latinx community, tourism, agriculture, personal services, and cities to ensure that we are able to move forward in unison. Under such a transparent and open process, Sheriff Essick is committed to enforcing health orders.
The existing orders issued by the Health Officer to delay this phase of re-opening until Monday, June 8 remain in effect. As Sheriff Essick recently announced, the Sheriff’s Office will – as it has since the inception of the order – continue to use its discretion to emphasize education over punitive action as we create a path forward together in an ever-changing environment. Perhaps now more than ever, we must count on each other to take personal responsibility to use face coverings, practice social distancing and stay at home when possible during this phased-in transition. Everyone in the community is responsible for keeping our County safe and strong during this pandemic. We look forward to working together to achieve transparent decision-making processes; data-driven directives; thoughtful enforcement; and collaborative, cross-sector leadership.
For more information about COVID-19 please visit SoCoEmergency.org. Residents may also call 2-1-1 or text their zip code to 898-211 in order to text with a 2-1-1 operator.