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Plumas County sends letter to the governor asking to ease stay-at-home order

Plumas County is the latest county joining the chorus to be released from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order.

Plumas sent its letter to the state April 30 and released it to the public today, a week after Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Tehama, Glenn and Colusa counties sent their requests, and a day after Modoc County decided to reopen on its own accord. Modoc, with a population of less than 10,000 and no known COVID cases, is reopening barbershops, nail salons, bars, restaurants and churches, though bars and restaurants must not surpass half capacity.

Kevin Goss, chairman of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, said he saw a copy of the letter before it was sent to the governor. “I read it and was OK with it,” he said May 1. “We were up against a timeline to get it sent.” When asked what timeline, he responded that the county is working with Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office, which is also working with other North State rural counties. LaMalfa planned to send a letter on behalf of all of the counties involved and wanted the Plumas letter to be there in advance.

The April 30 letter addressed to Gov. Newsom and signed by Dr. Mark Satterfield, the Plumas County health officer, reads in part: “Plumas County believes we are well prepared to safely bring some residents in lower-risk occupations back to work and respectfully request the opportunity to do so. We have made tremendous progress meeting the six defined indicators in California’s Roadmap and request a modification to the stay-at- home order issued March 19, 2020 to allow increased local decision making. We also ask that any loosening of the stay-at-home order does not rely on an essential/non-essential framework, but rather one based on a continuum of risk with local flexibility.”

The letter addresses the history of COVID in the county including its low rate of confirmed cases — just four with all four individuals recovering, and the high testing rate (largest per capita in the state) of 24 tests per 1,000 persons. It acknowledges the work being done to protect seniors and the preparedness of the area’s three hospitals.

It also addresses how county officials will work with businesses: “Since businesses in a rural community are natural social and gathering places, we will require each business in Plumas County to have a safe operating plan before they can reopen. This plan will require employers to consider measures needed to protect employees, measures to prevent gatherings, measures to prevent unnecessary contact between individuals, and measures to increase sanitation among other things. The County response team is finalizing a template that businesses can use to satisfy these requirements.”

In the letter, Satterfield said that the county has the “full support of our law enforcement partners” to ensure that guidelines are followed. (Law enforcement cited one business owner this week for failing to follow the state order as it is in effect now.)

The letter did not specify which businesses, or in what order, or in what manner they would be allowed to reopen. Supervisor Goss said those details would be worked out in the coming days as officials meet with businesses and chambers of commerce.

In a press release today, Public Health said: “We do not know if or when Plumas County will receive a response from Governor Newsom. We continue to follow the stay-at-home order as we help our community prepare for potential changes.”

Supervisor Jeff Engel addressed the letter Thursday evening, April 30. Engel has been a vocal proponent of getting small business owners back to work — most recently having his hair cut by a local barber who reopened despite the stay-at-home order. (That business owner has since been cited.) Engel said, “At least we got a letter off to the governor today.”



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