Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – A proposed Board of Supervisors resolution vouching for Humboldt County’s ability to “respond locally to the COVID-19 virus in accordance with our local data and circumstances” has been dropped by its sponsor, Supervisor Rex Bohn.
Facing community criticism of the resolution’s goals, Bohn agreed to withdraw it from consideration at the board’s January 12 meeting.
Known as The Healthy Communities Resolution, the document opposes the state’s “one-size-fits-all approach to reopening communities that fails to allow the flexibility to respond in a data-driven way to what is occurring in our county.”
The resolution was drafted by Republican state legislators and has been adopted by multiple counties that object to the state’s tiered system of coronavirus-related restrictions.
Saying “I didn’t realize this would cause this much uproar,” Bohn described the resolution as statement of support for local public health decisionmaking.
He said he wants to give county public health officials “the latitude to handle this pandemic on a more local basis when our numbers continue to prove much better than the balance of the state.”
The resolution reflects “the attitude and aptitude of Humboldt,” he continued. Bohn cited the North Coast region’s and Humboldt’s ICU bed capacities as examples of local conditions that differ from the rest of the state.
But the northern region’s capacity was at 17.6 percent as of the day of the meeting, bringing it closer to the state’s restriction-triggering threshold of 15 percent.
Supervisor Mike Wilson strongly opposed the resolution, saying he’s gotten “an immense amount of negative feedback” on it. He compared its approach to a lack of broad federal pandemic response.
“From the strategic end at the federal level, it’s just been absolutely horrible,” he said. “There has been a lack of cohesiveness that I don’t want to replicate from the bottom up.”
Supervisor Michelle Bushnell said she supports reopening schools as soon as possible but that goal is reflected in the governor’s recently-announced Safe Schools for All Plan. She supports allowances of local control “when our numbers are sufficiently lowering.”
Supervisor Steve Madrone noted that the state’s current rules allow school districts to make decisions on resuming classroom instruction in collaboration with parents and teachers.
Saying he opposes the resolution, Madrone noted one of the origin points of its support, the Placer County Board of Supervisors.
He noted that in a photo on a website promoting the resolution, three out of five of the Placer supervisors are unmasked despite all being together in the same room.
“Yes, they’re five or six feet apart but a majority were unmasked and of course, we’ve had some complaints about unmasked supervisors in our courthouse as well,” Madrone said. He believes that “now is not the time to loosen things up, it’s the time to double down and stay the course.”
With Bohn’s agreement to withdraw the resolution, the matter was dropped.
The timing of the resolution wasn’t ideal. It coincided with the county returning to the state’s purple or highest COVID-19 risk tier.