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Tuolumne County Planning To Allow Public Back Into Supervisor Meetings

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Sonora, CA — As a health precaution, the board of supervisors in Tuolumne County has been meeting behind closed doors, open to the public only virtually, over the past year.

That is anticipated to change soon.

During the discussion about the COVID-19 response, Board Chair Ryan Campbell said it is a regular discussion topic between the CAO’s Office and the Public Health Department.

He said the county has been taking a “cautious approach” out of fear that they would have to eventually close meetings again if the infection levels increased. He said the “informal plan” is to reopen meetings by the first week of May. He says it could come sooner if the county enters the “yellow tier” prior to the first of May.

He added, “It is still subject to change if we did have an immediate spike,” but it is the plan that has been “discussed internally.”

Also during the COVID-19 discussion, Health and Human Services Agency Director Rebecca Espino expressed optimism about the road ahead.

She stated, “After almost 14 months, our community is finally able to see that there is light at the end of this horrific tunnel.  The reduction of COVID cases has reduced steadily and rapidly, moving us from the most restrictive purple tier to almost the least restrictive orange tier.”

She added, “Hopefully soon your public health department will be able to start scaling down COVID operations as more and more residents gain access to vaccine. However, Behavioral Health, your other Health and Human Services Agency’s department, will ramp up operations. The impact of 14 months of isolation has left many in our community longing for mental health and/or substance use support services.”

Next month there will be a series of virtual town hall meetings focused on related behavioral health matters.

Public Health officials also encouraged residents to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, as variants are still a lingering concern that could increase local infection numbers. Tuolumne County has opened up the vaccine to anyone 16 and over.