Like me, I am sure many of you are eagerly awaiting the day that I have something to write about other than the COVID-19 pandemic.
Something happened just the other day that makes me feel the need to highlight the inconsistency in practices and what we should keep in mind should we ever find ourselves back in a pandemic situation. We all know the story so far. In March of last year, we went into a full stay-at-home order. Then, counties were placed on watch lists, and then the blueprint for a safer economy determined which tier of reopening we could enter. Then, in response to concerns that ICU capacities were dwindling, the state grouped counties and regions and declared that any region with less than 15% ICU capacity would go into a full shutdown for a minimum of three weeks.
The Greater Sacramento Region, consisting of 13 different counties, was ordered into the regional stay-at-home order on December 9th . We were anticipating remaining in the shutdown far beyond the minimum three-week requirement. On the morning of January 12th, our Public Health officials were briefing the Board of Supervisors on the status of the County’s response to the pandemic. That briefing included that the regional ICU capacity remained at 9.4%, far below what was needed to reopen. Then, miraculously, our Public Health officials received a call from the state that the Sacramento region would be exiting the stay-at-home order and returning to the purple tier of reopening, effective immediately.
I was elated to hear the news. It is no secret that I have been a strong advocate for safely reopening our economy. I have advocated for the zip code-based system so that Rio Linda/Elverta does not see all of its customers flock to businesses in Roseville when they open first. I have consistently asked for contact tracing data that justifies the closing of various businesses without success. Much of my frustration and the frustration I hear from local business owners comes from the perspective that the state just seems to be making up the rules as they go along. This recent move to reopen the Greater Sacramento region, while a positive move, shows just how subjective the rules continue to be. The reason the Greater Sacramento region was able to return to the purple tier was based on a four-week projection that our ICU capacity would reach approximately 19%. As far as I know, reopening based on a projection of ICU capacity was never a metric we were told could be used to reopen.
Again, I am thrilled that we are taking positive steps in the direction of reopening our businesses. Our case rate appears to be hitting a plateau, and, obviously, our ICUs are starting to free up more space. The data around COVID-19 cases and deaths is essential, and it should be used to guide how we react to the pandemic. I can also accept that we continue to learn more about the virus and our own capacities to control it every day. That is why I am so opposed to knee-jerk reactions of the state every time they realize their plans aren’t working. For more than a month, businesses that had been acting in good faith to comply with public health guidance invested their time and money and brought back the employees they care about were told to shut down completely, again. The time for the state to flex emergency powers to appear in control is over. We now need to focus on keeping businesses safely open and getting the vaccine to as many people as are willing to take it. The sooner we get back to normal, the sooner we can get back to fixing the 99 other problems we already had on our plate before the pandemic hit.
Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands, Carmichael, Foothill Farms and Fair Oaks