‘Roadmap for Reopening’ slated to be presented this week

Today, 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. 

The letter asks Governor Gavin 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 robust testing regimen and 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 goes on to describe what types of public health risks exist during a prolonged recession, including an increase in the mortality rate, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and chronic stress.

“According to a report by Harvard Public Health, recessions (and unemployment, in general) cause higher levels of chronic stress, which itself can give individuals a higher risk of heart disease, acute sleep deprivation, depression, decreased response to vaccines and an increase in smoking and drinking alcohol. One social science study links high unemployment levels to higher mortality rates, while another concludes that “economic uncertainty … had direct effects on the risk of [child] abuse or neglect[.]’ Yet another social science study linked high unemployment rates during the Great Recession to an increase in domestic violence, and we are seeing evidence of this in our communities already.”

Without the Governor relaxing the statewide March 19 Safer-at-Home executive order, San Luis Obispo County cannot reopen its economy and get people back to work.

Governor Newsom was asked about the letter at his Monday press conference.

“We recognize 48 counties, 480 cities, different parts of the state impacted differently,” Newsom said, “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. 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.”

San Luis Obispo County was one of the first counties to issue a Safer-at-Home order. The county has also taken the extraordinary step of developing its own 165-bed Alternative Care Site, with the capacity to rapidly scale to 931 beds if necessary. As a result of this early action and the collective sacrifice made by small businesses, workers and families to comply with the Safer-at-Home order, San Luis Obispo County has seen only 130 COVID-19 cases, with 111 fully recovered.

“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.”

Michigan and Ohio plan to phase-in reopening of their economies on May 1.

Download a copy of the letter here. 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.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles