Still in crisis mode

Butte County Supervisors vote to keep COVID-19 disaster proclamation in place for now

Visualization of COVID-19 virus by Fusion Medical Animation.

The Butte County Board of Supervisors chose to maintain its local disaster proclamation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic at its meeting Tuesday (Sept. 14). The decision passed narrowly with a 3-2 vote, with Chairman Bill Connelly and Supervisor Tod Kimmelshue dissenting. Another review of the proclamation will be scheduled for 60 days from now.

Butte County Chief Administrative Officer Andy Pickett recommended keeping the proclamation in place in order to ensure that the county could continue to access financial resources from the state to respond to the disaster.

As the county’s vaccination rate has remained low and the delta variant has become widespread, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths has continued to climb. At Tuesday’s meeting, Butte County Public Health Director Danette York shared that as of Monday (Sept. 13), there were 106 COVID-positive patients in Butte County hospitals, 18 in the ICU. In comparison, on Aug. 8, only 48 COVID-positive patients were hospitalized; 63 on Aug. 14.

Despite these alarming statistics, however, most citizens in attendance who spoke on the topic said they were in favor of terminating the emergency declaration, with one going so far as to threaten a recall effort if it was not rescinded.

Supervisor Doug Teeter, who initially brought a proposal forward to discuss removing the proclamation in early August, acknowledged that conditions have worsened since then—and that he was likely to receive backlash in response to his decision on Tuesday to keep it in place.

“Until that time we can get people back to work, till the time that landlords can be given back their eviction rights, I think we still need access to some funding,” he said. “Just to say ‘no’ when we have that tool doesn’t make sense.”

As a part of its motion, the panel also will send a letter to the state legislature urging them to re-evaluate the local disaster proclamation process.

Also, at the very end of the meeting, Supervisor Debra Lucero proposed agendizing a discussion on face coverings and whether the county should institute an indoor mask mandate in an effort to curb the spread of COVID. Supervisor Tami Ritter seconded and the issue will be addressed at a future meeting.

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