Gov. Newsom addresses SLO County letter of request to reopen local economy

Posted at 2:40 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 22:10:43-04

In his daily press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the possibility of San Luis Obispo County's reported request to open up early.

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) and a bipartisan coalition of San Luis Obispo County elected leaders sent a letter to the Governor asking for a science-based, phased reopening of the local economy with the guidance of local public health officials, according to a press release from Cunningham's office.

The letter asks Newsom for permission to implement the SLO County Roadmap for Reopening, a phased reopening plan slated to be unveiled by the county later this week that includes a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan that follows both State and Federal reopening guidelines.

“According to the L.A. Times, more than 2.5 million Californians have filed for unemployment over the past month, and an economist has predicted a statewide unemployment rate near 20% within the next month,” states the letter. “A prolonged recession is likely and becomes likelier each day we keep workers from making a living.”

The letter, which Newsom said he had not read, goes on to describe what types of economy-related public health risks exist during a prolonged recession, including an increase in the mortality rate, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and chronic stress.

“We’ve asked a great deal of county residents in the past month, and they have risen to the challenge. We’ve asked businesses to risk permanent closure, and to layoff beloved employees. Workers have been laid off without much in the bank to get by,” states the letter. “We’ve asked families to avoid seeing friends and loved ones. We’ve asked kids not to go to school or play sports.

“We have asked our residents to take these desperate measures because of the unique risks posed to the broader community by this virus so that we can flatten the curve and allow our healthcare capacity to catch up.

“Now we need to move to the next phase, which is economic recovery.”

On Monday, Newsom was asked for his response on the county's request to reopen its economy independently of other counties and cities.

"Localism. We recognize 48 counties, 480 cities, different parts of the impacted differently. But the fact we are one state and the impact collectively we have to one another in neighboring counties, neighboring cities must also be considered," Newsom said. "All of that is exactly why last week we put out those terms, those six areas of categories where we are advancing those conversations at the local level, incorporating their thoughts and advice at the state level and every Wednesday we will be updating you on those categories."

Newsom expects he and his administration will be receiving more like it in the weeks to come.

"We have a process to adjudicate those and begin to dialogue with our team and their local health team to make sure it's a health-based decision, not any other type of decision-making," he said. "Health first, science and data, everything else follows from that."

The letter is signed by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor John Peschong, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold, Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom, Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno, Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee, Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, Pismo Beach Mayor Ed Waage, Morro Bay Mayor John Headding and San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon.

San Luis Obispo County Public Health announced no new confirmed cases on Monday, the third time that has occurred since the outbreak began.

You can download and read the letter here.