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Tuolumne County Delays Action On COVID-19 Committee

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Sonora, CA — Supervisor Anaiah Kirk proposed at today’s board of supervisors meeting that a new committee be formed to provide county leaders advice about COVID-19.

It would be completely separate from the Public Health Department, and the new group would review information, and make recommendations to the board of supervisors.

In a letter to the board, Kirk argued, “There is no doubt, our residents want to keep the virus out of our community, but at what continued cost? Suicide attempts are up, divorce rates are up, domestic violence, drug abuse and alcohol abuse are up. Businesses are being forced to close, children not being allowed to go back to school which is forcing parents to stay home and not work, this is creating a social-economic downturn which has continued public health ramifications.”

Kirk indicated the committee could be comprised of people in professions such as doctors, psychologists, counselors and epidemiologists, and they would make recommendations.

Noting displeasure with directives from the state, Kirk’s letter adds, “The shelter in place order was to give surge capacity to our hospitals so that they could deal with COVID-19 patients. It was not put in place to defeat COVID-19 or wait for a vaccine.”

Supervisor Karl Rodefer backed Kirk’s idea, stating, “We need to learn as a society how to live with this virus.”

Supervisors John Gray and Ryan Campbell were skeptical of forming the committee. Gray said he did not understand what the end goal is.

Meanwhile, Campbell said it creates the perception that the county would be creating a committee because it does not like the answers it is getting from its Public Health Department. He said, “That’s not how medical science should work and how public health should work.”

The committee could take six weeks to create, and Gray and Campbell were also concerned that it would take staff away from other projects. Gray said he was not dismissing the idea entirely, but wanted more information. He also preferred having the committee be under the Public Health Department, and not outside of it. That concept is somewhat opposite to what Kirk is proposing.

Supervisor Sherri Brennan expressed openness to creating the new committee, and the potential benefits, but asked Kirk and Rodefer to meet and hash out additional details, and end goals, so that the board will have a clearer picture.

The two agreed to do so and will bring back a more detailed plan at a future meeting.

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