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County officials calls end to COVID-19 emergency

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday terminated the local health emergency relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, although Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to let his state of emergency declaration linger.

The board initially proclaimed Colusa County’s public health emergency on March 20, 2020, following Newsom’s declaration three weeks earlier on March 4, which put the state in near total lockdown.

Ending the local emergency coincides with Newsom’s announcement that he is ending the Blueprint for a Safer Economy on June 15, which will allow everyday activities to resume and all businesses to fully open.

County officials said – within the boundaries of Colusa County – there is no longer an imminent and proximate threat to public health from COVID-19 – now that the coronavirus vaccine is widely available.

As of Tuesday, about 63.2 percent of Colusa County’s vulnerable population (age 65 or older) had at least one dose of the vaccine; 59.9 percent of people over the age 50 had at least one dose, and 44 percent of the population ages 29-49 had at least one dose.

Overall, fully vaccinated amounts to about 35 percent of Colusa County’s population, according to Colusa County Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly.

With COVID-19 declining, California is expected to fully reopen on June 15, although the state may continue to require mask wearing for unvaccinated individuals and some restrictions on large indoor events, such as conventions.

Kelly said California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board also issued revised standards on June 3 that said fully vaccinated employees need not wear a mask at work after June 15, but only if they are alone in a room or a room in which everyone is fully vaccinated and has no COVID-19 symptoms.

Kelly said she did not expect the county to enforce such a standard as it would require documenting who is vaccinated and who is not. It would also require the county to provide fitted N95 masks to employees who have not been fully vaccinated.

“The caveat is that it is none of our business who is vaccinated, so I’m not exactly sure how that is assessed,” she said.

Although the state plans to end the blueprint for a safer economy this coming Tuesday, the governor is determined to keep masking and social distancing requirements in place well into July.

On Monday, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), and Senator Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) sent a letter to Newsom requesting an explanation for his recent decision to extend the State of Emergency beyond June 15.

Kiley, Gallagher, and Melendez are the authors of ACR 46 and SCR 5, resolutions to exercise the Legislature’s authority to end the State of Emergency under the Emergency Services Act.

The legislators said the declining COVID-19 infection rate and death rate indicate there are no longer “conditions of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the state.”

The daily COVID-19 infection rate is 1 out of every 25,000 people nationally, and 1 out of every 50,000 in California. The daily death rate is 1 out of every 770,000 people nationally, and 1 out of every 1.4 million in California, they said.

“Conditions of disaster or extreme peril do not warrant a state of emergency in themselves, but only in ‘by reason or their magnitude’ they ‘are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment, and facilities on any single county, city and county, or city,” the letter states.

The legislators asked the governor if he plans to keep a state of emergency until cases reach zero, or to at least identify a case rate that would be acceptable.

The Board of Supervisors also questioned the state’s continued emergency order, stating that local COVID-19 cases have not overburdened local medical facilities, which was their fear when the COVID-19 pandemic first started.

The board unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday declaring that there is no longer an imminent threat from COVID-19, which has stabilized, although they still encouraged all who are eligible for vaccinations to get vaccinated. 

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