Editor’s note: During the Plumas County Board of Supervisors July 7 meeting, members of the Community Conversations group expressed concerns about the county’s response to COVID-19 particularly as it pertained to businesses. The following is a response written by Supervisor Lori Simpson.
First, I want to thank you again for attending our Board of Supervisors meeting and presenting your concerns.
I continue to wonder why none of you contacted your county supervisor for a conversation about your concerns or to get our perspective? Jen Terhune did contact me and asked about the contact tracing and I referred her to Dr. Satterfield, our Public Health Officer but found out she never did contact him with her questions.
Since this COVID-19 pandemic broke out, it continues to be a global, national, state, and local concern. This pandemic is classified as a “health emergency” and certain powers can be authorized by the Governor of our state and the local Public Health Officer, who must be a doctor and possess a medical degree. The supervisors are not arbitrarily making decisions to close businesses, schools, agencies, etc, this is coming from the California State Governor who has powers during an emergency pandemic that we must follow.
There is and has been coordinated leadership with Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff, Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Satterfield, Sheriff Todd Johns, District Attorney David Hollister, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) and County Administrator Gabriel Hyrick, with daily communications and responses to the public and our state officials. I am on the California State Association of Counties as a board director; we had daily briefings starting the night of the Stay at Home Order. We have had telephone or online meetings with our congressional and state legislators as well.
After the Governor issued the Stay At Home Order, the BOS immediately called a special meeting that was live streamed with people texting in their questions. All the BOS meetings are live streamed and archived, that has been the case for the last 10-plus years. We are briefed weekly at our BOS meetings on the status of COVID-19 by the Public Health Director and staff.
Plumas District Hospital doctors, Jeff Kepple and Ross Morgan, and Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff did a Facebook Live on Covid-19 and the importance of flattening the curve. Other local hospitals have been putting out pertinent info like testing opportunities. We are trusting our local medical providers and hospitals for additional guidance.
The Public Health Information Officer sends press releases (often daily) to Plumas News, local Chambers of Commerce, our local hospitals, businesses, schools, hospitals, non-profits, agencies, etc.
We have found social media is an effective way to reach people, since most people do use a computer and have smartphones. I update my Facebook page daily with pertinent information.
The county has also had a red COVID -19 button on the Plumas County website that is updated daily with any new information and guidance.
We have a Covid-19 hotline for people to call with any questions they have: 283-6400. I was told to refer people and businesses to that line so that they can get the most up-to-date information available and have their questions answered. I have also referred business owners and customers who report other business owners that they feel are not offering the public a safe environment to the hotline. I have personally had many business owners contact me for information, which I give immediately or if I don’t know I refer to Public Health or the appropriate governmental agency.
I find that it is another fallacy on your part that there was no communication with business owners. County supervisors have their phones ring day and night as well as receiving texts and emails. People know where we live, they know how to contact us because they do.
The Plumas County Environmental Health Department contacted businesses and gave them a template to work out a plan for opening up again. We had to follow the Governor’s Executive Order for Stay at Home and shutting down non-essential businesses, it wasn’t something the BOS just pulled out of a hat. The State of California has many regulatory agencies like the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) Division, Alcohol and Beverage, etc. who can close down businesses who do not comply.
The county is feeding about 400 seniors a day with the Senior Nutrition program. Print readouts with Covid-19 information are delivered with the meals throughout the county. A mailer with COVID-19 info was sent by Public Health to each mailbox holder.
I find it extremely untrue that information has not been forthcoming, nor transparent.
Even though Feather Publishing has suspended its print editions, the online Plumas News has been current and up to date with Covid -19 information on a daily basis, thanks to the editor, Debra Moore, and other reporters. We all share Public Health and Plumas News information.
I have been interviewed on the local public radio station here in Quincy, as has the Public Health Director.
Here are some links for you to study and review to get a grasp of what we have been dealing with day by day in a fluid, ever changing, manner that continues to this day:
Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Regarding Coronavirus:
California State Declaration Executive Order:
California State Covid – 19 Resources – https://covid19.ca.gov/
Plumas County Covid – 19 Resources – https://www.plumascounty.us/2669/Novel-Coronavirus-2019-COVID-19
Essential workers are defined by the Federal Government, not the Board of Supervisors. The list is below. It was posted online on the county webpage.
Federal Essential Worker Lists – https://www.plumascounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/25768/FINAL-GUIDANCE-of-Essential-Workers-1?bidId=
Your business survey was only based in Quincy. Here is one (attachment below) conducted by Nortec and Alliance for Workforce, which covered all of Plumas County, not just Quincy and other northern California Counties.
The county notified local businesses of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and I know for certain one local CPA was helping businesses sign up if they met the guidelines. Our County Administrator is working with the City of Portola on grant funding and loan information for businesses that have experienced losses. It is not easy, many of these programs have onerous paperwork and strings attached, but the County is looking at all available resources.
I was frustrated by your lack of communication to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. Your group is Quincy centered, so doesn’t represent the whole of Plumas County. Our communities are small, and full of ongoing community conversations.