NEVADA CITY, Calif. May 9, 2020 – Yuba/Sutter and Modoc Counties, received a letter from CalOES Director Mark Ghilarducci warning them of possible consequences for leapfrogging the gradual reopening of businesses. The three counties could lose their eligibility for disaster funding, the letter stated.

On May 1st, the Yuba-Sutter Health Officer issued a revised order that reads, in part: “Under the new orders, restaurants, retail operations, shopping malls, construction, real estate, agriculture, gyms and fitness studios, hair salons and barbershops, nail salons, spas, massage therapy centers, and tattoo parlors are all allowed to operate as long as appropriate business modifications are made to adhere to social distancing and other tenets of combating COVID-19.”

The order went into effect on May 4, three days before Governor Newsom announced California was ready to move into Stage 2 of the Reopening Roadmap.

On Thursday, the counties were informed that:

The county’s actions could threaten Yuba County’s eligibility for disaster funding. This funding is designed to assist jurisdictions facing extraordinary circumstances beyond the jurisdiction’s capability. If Yuba County believes there is no emergency, such that it can ignore the Governor’s Executive Orders or the State Public Health Officer’s directives, the county would not be able to demonstrate that it was extraordinarily and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This could jeopardize its disaster funding. Further, disaster assistance programs prohibit a jurisdiction from receiving funding for a condition caused by its own negligence. Should Yuba County experience a surge in COVID-19 cases as a result of hasty and careless actions, the county may be ineligible for reimbursement.

Yuba and Sutter counties issued a short comment, stating “We received the letter and understand the Governor’s direction. As always, we are working to do what is best for the overall health of our communities, and we will continue coordinating with Governor’s representatives on achieving balance with his order.”

CalOES’ letter asked for cooperation from the counties and offered “to assist you in bringing Yuba County into compliance with state orders and directives by providing the framework established by the State Public Health Officer pursuant to Executive Order N-60-20, which allows local jurisdictions to move through Stage 2 of California’s Pandemic Resilience Roadmap more quickly than California as a whole, to the extent local conditions warrant.

Modoc County did not issue a statement at this time.

Neighboring Nevada County made it clear during a press conference yesterday they intend to follow the state guidelines and seek the variance for reopening more sectors of the economy. Their Public Health Officer will confer with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Monday, supervisors will discuss and vote on the county’s variance attestation form on Tuesday.

Resilience Roadmap

The guidance issued by the State went into effect yesterday and Stage 2 is divided into two phases:

Can open with modifications

  • Curbside retail, including but not limited to: Bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, home and furnishing stores, sporting goods stores, antique stores, music stores, florists. Note: this will be phased in, starting first with curbside pickup and delivery only until further notice.
  • Supply chains supporting the above businesses, in manufacturing and logistics sectors

Can open later in Stage 2:

  • Destination retail, including shopping malls and swap meets.
  • Personal services, limited to: car washes, pet grooming, tanning facilities, and landscape gardening.
  • Office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged)
  • Dine-in restaurants (other facility amenities, like bars or gaming areas, are not permitted)
  • Schools and childcare facilities
  • Outdoor museums and open gallery spaces

Counties can obtain a variance allowing them to move faster than the totality of the state. The guidance document outlines the steps necessary to move through all phases of Stage 2.

Funding at stake

During their April 28 meeting Yuba County Supervisors approved a budget transfer in the amount of $1,031,250 to cover expenditures related to the COVID-19 Health Emergency. The supporting document states: “The Office of Emergency Services will seek Federal and State reimbursement to recover these expenses at a sharing ratio of 75% Federal and 18.75% State. The remaining 6.25% will be covered through the 163 Disaster Accounting Fund.

Yuba County Supervisors will hold a special meeting on May 9 to “discuss the comprehensive attestation which outlines the readiness of Yuba and Sutter Counties to begin reopening our community and approve the proposed letter of support for our COVID-19 COUNTY VARIANCE ATTESTATION FORM FOR YUBA COUNTY and SUTTER COUNTY.”