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Proposal To Fully Reopen Tuolumne County Lacks Support

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Sonora, CA — A proposal to essentially defy state COVID-19 restrictions did not have enough support to be approved by the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors.

The board spent nearly three hours discussing coronavirus at today’s meeting.

Much of it was related to a presentation put together by Supervisor Anaiah Kirk, and supported by board member Karl Rodefer, about the negative impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Kirk was strongly lobbying for the county to approve a message of “fully reopening the county’s economy, strongly encouraging safe mitigation measures, and sending the presentation to the Governor” and other state leaders.

Kirk acknowledged he is less concerned about the current restrictions in place, and more worried about a second wave potentially hitting later this winter, and Governor Newsom again closing down more business sectors.

Kirk and Rodefer argued that lockdowns are more damaging than helpful. Kirk cited data that they prevent people from receiving small inoculants (with a proper mask) which can lead to more minor cases of COVID-19. He said the smaller inoculants could lead to an increase in herd immunity. He also argued that deaths have been lower in states which have declined to do heavier lockdowns.

Kirk added that closing the economy leads to more instances of divorce, suicide and domestic violence.

Rodefer said he feels urban and suburban counties are different, related to population density, and there should be different rules for those geographic regions.

When asked about the presentation, Interim Health Officer, Dr. Eric Sergienko, stated that he does not recommend fully opening the local economy at this time. He said gaining herd immunity comes with inherent risks, and the more open the economy is, the more risk the county is accepting for death and hospitalization.  However, he said points referenced were good for discussion when deciding what is the right level of reopening.  Concluding, “I don’t think we can throw the door wide open and live without restrictions.”

Notably opposed to the plan, Supervisor Ryan Campbell said he feels Supervisor Kirk was trying to turn the health pandemic into a political issue, and apologized to members of the public health department in attendance. Campbell called some of the information “demonstrably false and misleading.”

Supervisor John Gray said there are “more questions than answers” about the virus. He stated, “lockdowns are bad,” but said the county needs to protect the most vulnerable in the community. He noted that 28-percent of residents are over 65 years old and many are not in senior living facilities. He did note that he supports some of the points made.

Board Chair Sherri Brennan indicated that the presentation was productive, but at this time, she could not support the entirety of it, and sending it to the Governor. However, there were also many parts she agrees with and said the county should continue to work closely with rural county organizations to express concerns.

In the end, a majority of the board agreed to the approach brought up by Brennan.

You can read the updated report from supervisor Kirk by clicking here.