Last week, we covered a lot of ground at the Board of Supervisors. We started three days of hearings with a moment of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. As we seek a more just society, we know there’s a lot more work to do and we’re committed to working with our community to do it.
Also on Tuesday, we returned to more typical Board business, relatively speaking, in order to discuss land use issues and review contracts. We expect future Tuesday meetings to focus more on these regular business items.
On Wednesday, we met to discuss the county budget. As our cities, school boards, fire districts and county library have already begun sharing in their online meetings, tax revenues are expected to fall dramatically. At the county, those numbers get much bigger, but our process is slightly different.
As we prepare for the next fiscal year, there will be opportunities for community input in July and then again in September. With a large amount of uncertainty around our economy and state and federal support, we’re contemplating a broad swath of cuts, ranging from 8% to 30% of existing revenues. As we get closer to making those decisions, I’ll email again to request your feedback on what we should prioritize.
On our third day of meetings, Thursday, we had our COVID updates from our public health team. I’ve shared a longer report on this below.
Please note this week’s meetings regarding next fiscal year’s budget have been cancelled. We are actively assessing the economic fallout on our revenues in order to have all available information before we begin considering cuts. Until we have more clarity on the financial effects of COVID, our budget discussion may proceed slower than usual.
Next Tuesday, June 25, in the morning we will hear a report on homelessness in Sonoma County, considering broad strategic perspectives and responding specifically to COVID. In the afternoon we will discuss housing stabilization options, including a potential rental eviction moratorium and expanded benefits for renters, wrapping up with vacation rental options. In everything we do, we consider the impacts from COVID to ensure Sonoma County reopens safely and carefully.
|COVID Update to the Board: Thursday, June 11
When Dr. Mase went through her slides of updates last Thursday, it was incredibly revealing. More helpful than just reading the online charts I shared above, Dr. Mase connected the dots of the data. In about half an hour, she was able to tell us why Sonoma County’s tests show us having the third highest infection reproduction rate in the state (due to focused testing), but much lower hospitalization and death rates (owing to lack of community spread).
If you can, I highly encourage you to watch Dr. Mase’s presentation from last Thursday, starting at about 3:30, where she connects the dots in the data.
A few takeaways from Dr. Mase’s presentation:
1. Stay at home orders did work to flatten the curve and keep us well below surge capacity at hospitals.
2. Three different models now forecast a second wave of cases peaking in the August to September time period, which we’ll be monitoring closely.
3. We have the local capacity to perform more tests, but people are just not coming in to get the tests.
4. Most of the new cases are from very close contact, coming from a few clusters of cases, not community spread.
5. Our local uptick in positive cases is due mostly to “massive” testing in higher risk populations.
6. More summertime and tourism related businesses are expected to open this Friday, June 19, assuming we stay on our current trajectory (fingers crossed).
7. We have enough Remdesivir and ventilators at our local hospitals.
8. Our blood bank is testing for Coronavirus anti-bodies in new samples.
9. Dr. Mase does not expect we’ll have a vaccine in place by the end of the year, meaning we may have these mitigations (masks, social distancing, etc.) with us for a while.
One more big point, with testing capacity readily available in Sonoma County, Dr. Mase strongly encouraged anyone with even mild symptoms, or any protester wondering if they were not adequately distanced, to please go get tested. It’s free, easy and you get your results back relatively quickly.
Get Tested! Click here for locations, appointments and more information.
For business owners, have you seen our Economic Development Board website recently? Our hard-working staff is adding new safety guidance and more information all the time to help reboot our local economy. We’re reopening quickly, but also carefully, so please utilize this county resource to the fullest.
|Here’s my video from Friday on tasing rooms, dining out, testing availability, 2-1-1 information line and our Warm Line for counseling: