Two San Diego County leaders penned a letter to the state on Monday urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to reconsider a requirement that would prevent a jurisdiction from moving on to the next phase of reopening unless there are no COVID-19-related deaths.
Newsom has allowed counties to move faster than the state's Roadmap to Modify the Stay at Home order if certain conditions are met, one of which is to have zero deaths linked to the novel coronavirus and no more than one confirmed case per 10,000 residents over a two week span -- conditions that leaders across the state consider unrealistic.
County Supervisor Greg Cox and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer were among them, so the two local leaders sent a letter to the Governor asking him to instead look at setting guidelines on a county-by-county basis.
“In my opinion, and I’ll just speak for myself, I think that is an unrealistic standard that any large urban county probably could never meet that for the foreseeable future so we hope he’ll take a look at that and reconsider,” Cox said in the daily county press briefing.
In the letter, the leaders asked Newsom to look at the "sustained progress through an effective response and the tracking of local public health data and metrics."
Faulconer said in his daily briefing they're not asking the governor to change the science, just to change the restrictions.
“San Diego is ready to safely and strategically reopen, and we urge the governor to give our region the flexibility to do so. Workers are ready to start collecting paychecks again, businesses are ready to safely reopen their doors, and customers are ready to follow public safety health orders," he said.
When asked by reporters on Monday whether he would be willing to loosen the restriction on deaths, Newsom said, "We're open to argument, interested in evidence."
“There is a lot of really interesting nuance within these large counties and that obviously needs to be taken into account.”
Following two Monday's county and city briefings, a statement from Newsom's office read, "The Governor looks forward to continuing dialogue with counties across the state to begin modifying the Stay at Home order while putting public health first."
Other regional leaders have become much more defiant to the governor's orders. Supervisor Jim Desmond said he would prefer to move ahead of the state and reopen businesses even if not allowed under the current "stay at home" guidelines.
“Since the Governor has made it unattainable to get to the next step, I’m in favor of starting to open some of those businesses now I guess defying the Governor’s order," he told NBC 7 on Sunday.
County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar also said the epidemiological standards are unattainable in a county the size of San Diego.
Over the weekend, businesses in Oceanside opened in defiance of the county's own public health orders after the urging of an Oceanside city council member.
Other counties, particularly Yuba and Sutter counties in Northern California, have defied the stay at home order by allowing dine-in restaurants, hair salons and gyms to reopen. And on Monday, Tesla became the first big business in California to defy the order when they resumed operations at a plant in Alameda County.
California has more than 68,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,700 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because of a shortage of testing.
San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten noted a milestone on Monday. While positive cases reached 5,065, there have been no new deaths reported since Friday.