The Colusa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 today to take no further action that violates the Constitutional rights of local businesses and citizens, and asked local law enforcement to stand down.
Supervisors Gary Evans, who made the motion allowing the people of Colusa County to go about their business as they see fit, quoted the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment that reads, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Evans added that both state and county law also requires that the rights and privileges of citizens be protected.
Although Colusa County has asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow the county to move into Phase 3, there has been no reply. However, Newsom acknowledged in a press conference on May 18 that all counties were not the same and that county officials understand their local communities and conditions better than the state.
Supervisors said at their special meeting today that the data surrounding coronavirus in Colusa County does not support a continued lockdown that has devastated the local economy. There have been five confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the recent two cases now in isolation, although the Public Health Department could not confirm they are from the same household.
The three earlier cases are people that have recovered.
Although more than 100,000 people in the U.S. have died from or with COVID-19, multiple studies now suggest the mortality rate of the disease may be far lower than originally thought, and is less risky for young and healthy people.
“I understand that COVID-19 is a real threat and should be taken seriously but our county’s statistics reflect a situation that doesn’t align with the Governor’s orders that should apply to more populated areas – and our economy cannot wait,” Supervisor John Loudon said.
Evans, in making the motion to ease restrictions, asked the Colusa County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Police Departments of Williams and Colusa to stand down and allow people to go about their business as they see fit without threat of fine or penalty.
“I can’t speak for the police chiefs but speaking on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department, I fully support the motion,” Colusa County Sheriff Joe Garofalo said. “As I’ve said from day one, I’m here to support the county. We’ve waited long enough, we’ve been more than patient, and simply put – the numbers don’t support shelter in place, stay at home or whatever you want to call it.”
While county staff last week were concerned that the Governor would withhold federal disaster relief funds if Colusa County didn’t stay his course, supervisors believe it is an empty threat.
While the Sheriff’s Department would be impacted if disaster funds were withheld, Garofalo said his department was “resilient enough to adapt and overcome whatever barriers we face.”
While the motion to open Colusa County paves the way for retail, restaurants, and gyms to open and operate unimpeded, businesses that hold state licenses may have to comply with state restrictions.
The county will place no restrictions on churches nor restrict the number of people who can assemble at any gathering.
Officials did say that people should use their own judgement when it comes to wearing masks and physical distancing protocols, and that people should take whatever precautions they want to protect themselves.
The Colusa County Public Health Department will continue to track cases and perform contact tracing as prescribed by state guidelines.
Loudon suggested that if the county saw a spike in cases, then the Board of Supervisors could reevaluate the need for further action at that time.