Published: July 31, 2020
Dear County Employees,
First, I would like to thank you again for all that you have
been doing to help our community weather this crisis and to help your departments
and colleagues adapt to the changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19. Your
commitment and perseverance have made all the difference.
As you know, since early June, Sonoma County has exceeded
state COVID-19 case benchmarks, forcing the state to order a new round of
restrictions on activities such as indoor operations at restaurants, winery
tasting rooms, bars, museums and other businesses. In fact, on July 13, the
governor added even more restrictions for Sonoma County, including requiring the
closing of fitness centers, malls, hair salons and worship centers until
further notice. Around this same time, we did an internal review of the walk-in
traffic our department lobbies experienced when we expanded in-person services.
This showed that some departments had a high demand for walk-in services, while
others had a limited demand. In light of the state’s rollbacks we modified our
operations and are back to operating remotely for a majority of County
services. The state is monitoring a number of indicators, which you can view
on our dashboard, to determine when to ease back on restrictions for Sonoma
County. We will re-evaluate additional in-person services as these indicators
improve, and as the state lifts restrictions.
With that said, my deep gratitude and recognition goes out
to all of you who have worked on-site for some time, as well as those who
periodically have found the need to be on County grounds. Your dedication and
service to the community are much appreciated.
Meanwhile, our challenges continue.
This week the Board of Supervisors and department heads began the hard work of
addressing how to bridge a $45 million shortfall in our 2020-21 budget, a
shortfall associated with rising costs due to COVID-19 as well as the economic
downturn triggered by the pandemic. On an encouraging note, the Board of
Supervisors has invested in the creation of a new Office of Equity and has
appointed an Interim Equity Officer, Alegria De La Cruz. The creation of this
Office is a very important step in helping our organization address racial
equity and understand how we can all make a positive difference. To hear more
about this work, I encourage you to watch a short video
interview between the Chair of the Board and our new Interim Equity
We also are supremely aware that we
are heading into fire season, bringing added complexity and stress to our staff
and residents. While PG&E has promised the region that their power shutoffs
this year will be roughly half as large and half as long as they were in 2019,
we continue to prepare for blackouts as well as the tremendous risk of
wildfires following another dry year.
I wish I could give you hope for a
season where our mettle would not be tested as it has so often in recent years.
But you know that is not the case. All I can assure you of is two things: that
we remain Sonoma Strong, and that we are strong because of you. You are the
most valuable asset that we have as a County – and represent our best hope of
meeting the needs of our community, particularly those of our most vulnerable
residents, during these trying times.