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Imperial County Waiting for Variance Approval from Governor Newsom

-Editorial

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors ratified a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom requesting that consideration be made to advance the entire state to Stage 2B at their June 9 meeting. This approval would allow counties the ability to decide if they can reopen businesses, closed due to COVID-19, in a safe manner that fits with the circumstances of their county.

The request was made in consultation with the Imperial County Public Health Department and considering special circumstances experienced in Imperial County. The letter stated that since March, Imperial County has followed all recommendations and best practice guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19; however, due to factors outside of the exception of one; in the Governor’s metric guide to reopening have been met. Currently, the test positivity rate remains above the required 8 percent as set by the Governor.

Supervisor District 4 Ryan Kelley requested this letter to be sent since the county has met most of the criteria and believes that personal responsibility will be an important part of adapting to a new normal.

County Board Chairman Luis Plancarte said he received messages of support and also concern about the letter sent to the governor. He said that the request was to have the state move to a new level so that counties can decide how to proceed and not to open the economy. Plancarte added that areas such as San Diego and Riverside have already opened restaurants to a degree with social distancing measures. He hopes that with this measure Imperial Valley residents would travel less, potentially lowering exposure.

“We continue to look for ways to continue to have our community stay more local,” Plancarte said, “That was one of the reasons for requesting this variance so that locals to tailor-make whatever was needed in their community.”

County Chief Executive Officer Tony Rohoutas added:

“The control would be placed under the Public Health Department and the public health official, Dr. Munday under his guidance. And we need to put it out there that we know It’s a true balancing act. Where we have to open up commerce. But yet we still have to make sure that we ensure the safety of the people moving out and about. So, it wasn’t going to be where we just want to open up the entire door for all activities to occur. What we’re looking at is creating that balancing act to make sure we put in place, with guidance, the safety features that need to be there to protect our citizens as we begin to open the door to somewhat normalcy back within our lives.”

A group of Imperial Valley residents has started an online petition asking Governor Newsom, State Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, and State Senator Ben Hueso, to uphold the state’s public health guidelines and deny the Supervisor’s requests to exempt the county from public health metrics. They believe the current COVID-19 numbers don’t justify relaxing the current health orders.

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