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Fighting COVID-19 Together

Karl Rodefer
Karl Rodefer

Tuolumne County Fighting COVID-19 Together

WE ARE GETTING THERE! As we look forward to opening most of our businesses, let us keep in mind that we have not won the war on COVID-19. It is still possible for Tuolumne County to experience a significant outbreak of the virus. After going through six weeks of shutdown and implementing almost identical measures to minimizing the spread of the virus as we have, neighboring Mariposa County experienced a relative explosion of cases (13) within one week. They were all tied to one initial positive case with family and close associate transmission, not community spread. Their experience highlights the continuing risk associated with this virulent virus. Clearly, the risks to public health are not just those associated with the virus. We are seeing and are acutely sensitive to the increasing stresses and related potential for emerging health and life issues associated with the shut-down due both to isolation and loss of family income. We are asking with the Governor and the State Public Health Officer to allow us to bring as much of our businesses back into operation as we can while still mitigating the potential significant scale spread of the virus into our communities and safeguarding our most vulnerable populations. This plan will be closely aligned with the recently released California Pandemic Roadmap but tailored to the specific circumstances in our County.

The smooth progress and ultimate success of this transition will depend on all of us doing our part. Success includes both getting our economy up and running and keeping the spread of the virus at a manageable level. There are widely disparate opinions on how best to deal with this crisis. They both span and cross the political spectrum. They are often strongly held and emotionally articulated. They are fed and fanned by equally learned and opinionated experts from all sides. For a window into our local community division, during the week of April 22nd ran a poll asking, “Are you worried the economy: Won’t open soon enough; or, Will open too soon”. The results: 598 for not soon enough and 596 for open too soon. That is 50.08% versus 49.92%…2 votes difference out of almost 1200 cast. Your County Government is, and will continue to consider all the information available, all the public opinion and input, and the State and Federal directives and guidance.

Two underlying principles should guide us as we seek the needed common ground. The first is a fundamental principle of our Nation…that of personal freedom and choice. Underlying that principle and often ignored is the flip side of that coin–personal responsibility and accountability. That leads to the second, also one of the underlying principles of our Nation…respect for our fellow citizens and their rights to their personal freedom, choice and indeed life itself. On the one hand there are those who want Government to ensure their freedoms and choices at the expense of others. On the other there are those who want Government to stay out of everyone’s lives leaving all of us alone and to our own devices. The extreme of the first is a totalitarian state. The extreme of the second is anarchy. We who live in Tuolumne County can and must do much better than either. Your Board of Supervisors, Public Health Officer and county staff are doing our best to find the right balance in dealing with this crisis. We have been watching, listening and learning here locally. Thanks to so many of you for your input. Our planning is based on what we have learned. We will continue to watch, listen, learn and adapt going forward. Your constructive insights have helped develop our process and they will help us refine it as we proceed.

As we reopen our community, let us do so by respecting the legitimate anxieties and concerns of others, whether we share them or not. Let us deal with each other with mutual respect for each’s individual rights, especially when they come in conflict with our own. Let us treat each other with the civility and respect due all our fellow residents. Let us cooperate to the extent possible with the public health guidelines in place and be respectful, civil and supportive of one another. As we walk this path together let us remember that confrontation is neither necessary nor helpful. While we all have a right to feel comfortable in our circumstance, we often can alter, when needed, our circumstance with our feet. Let us demonstrate to all watching that Tuolumne County, just as we have many times before, can do this and do this right,…that we are better than this crisis which seeks to divide us,…that Tuolumne County truly is a blessed and special place with extraordinary people.