State Senator says areas with very few COVID-9 cases should be able to decide on their own


State Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) is asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to give cities and counties discretion on deciding when they can reopen businesses closed by his executive order.

She hand-delivered the letter to Newsom, this week, according to her office.

"It is time for us to move away from pursuing a set of uniform, statewide policies in response to this crisis and to instead permit for more focused and narrowly tailored solutions that are based on local conditions and levels of threat," Grove wrote. "In particular, we should strongly consider granting city and county governments more flexibility and discretion with respect to the shelter-in-place and business closure requirements."

Grove's request came as the Taft City Council is moving to reopen many businesses in the city. The council is holding a special meeting on April 27 to move towards getting more small businesses open.

The Council agenda says the council intends to expand list of essential business " to include, but not limited to barbers, hair and nail salons, and flower shops. This is the first step the Council plans to take to start to return some normalcy to our city and economic recovery to some of our small, more helpless businesses. This move would come with guidelines for the businesses to follow regarding social distancing and use of personal protective equipment."

Grove's district includes most of Kern County, which has a population of roughly 850,000 and has had 734 total confirmed COVID-cases an just fourth deaths attributed to the disease.

Grove pointed out the disparity in the rates of COVID-19 infection between different areas of the state.

"From what we have seen so far, it appears that COVID-19 has had a sizably different rate of spread throughout the communities and regions within California," Grove wrote. "Many cities and counties have in fact only had a handful of cases. For these and other similarly affected communities, it does not make sense to indefinitely bind them to the statewide shelter-in-place and business closure orders, especially when the social and economic harms that naturally follow from these orders are in themselves also quite serious.

Instead, we should exempt these communities from a strict application of your order and allow their local leaders to work in conjunction with state officials to find a more appropriate and workable set of safety measures to apply, ones that accurately balance the size of the risk against the costs and benefits of a continued shutdown to the local community."