By Assemblywoman Megan Dahle
It’s no secret that California is home to many diverse regions ranging from urban metropolises to frontier wilderness communities. But all too often the rural north gets lumped into one-size-fits- all policies alongside San Francisco and Los Angeles, when the makeup and needs of these regions are vastly different. The Governor’s preliminary approach to rolling back some COVID- 19 restrictions is poised to be yet another example of this.
While much attention is focused on the challenges the virus presents to life in the big city, the state ought to look to local leaders in the North State and their exemplary community response as we collectively work to get our state back on track. Rural hospitals, schools, and communities have met the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with urgency, and thanks to their efforts, their communities are ahead of the curve with preparations to safely get back to business.
No doubt the decreased population density of many northern counties has been helpful in limiting community transmission, but North State leaders and residents deserve commendation for the early and collaborative actions many took with county health officers. This has resulted in successful containment of the virus, very few cases of transmission, and sufficient hospital capacity should a surge occur. In comparison with their urban counterparts, North State communities are well-positioned to begin opening up their economies, and several are making their case to the Governor.
Boards of Supervisors in Lassen, Modoc, and Shasta County, along with the city of Anderson, have requested the Governor consider their reopening plans and allow their economies to reopen per local guidance from county public health officers. Several other North State cities and counties have the topic set for discussion on next week’s meeting agendas. I commend their initiative. The Governor should defer to local leaders’ knowledge of what’s best for their communities, keeping in mind that one-size-doesn’t-fit-all when it comes to successful public policy-making.
After all, the North State is no stranger to natural disaster response. Over the last few years, leaders in our communities have gained experience through the Carr Fire, Camp Fire, and the Oroville Dam crisis. These catastrophic events have taught our region how to work together to meet the challenges we are faced with, and COVID-19 is no exception.
Northern California families have felt the impact of the last several years in almost every aspect of life, especially economically. Businesses have served as the linchpin in previous recovery efforts in our communities affected by disasters, and they have taken a major hit from this pandemic. Businesses put families and neighbors back to work and provide the economic resources workers need to rebuild their lives, as well as providing necessary goods and services. Hence, it is in the best interest of the state as a whole to incentivize business growth and recovery. While I respect the Governor’s need to coordinate reopening at a national and statewide level, I urge him to consider locals’ expertise in determining the readiness of their communities to resume business in the wake of COVID-19.
Assemblywoman Megan Dahle represents the 1st Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Butte and Placer counties, along with Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, and Siskiyou counties.