Lo­cal county of­fi­cials want to pre­vent the spread of virus

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Shomik Mukher­jee and So­nia Waraich smukher­jee@times-stan­dard.com and swaraich@times­stan­dard.com @ShomikMukh­er­jee on Twit­ter

Hum­boldt County of­fi­cials have or­dered res­i­dents to shel­ter in place to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pan­demic. The move falls in line with a sim­i­lar or­der from Gov. Gavin New­som Thurs­day evening that called for a sim­i­lar shel­ter-in-place or­der across Cal­i­for­nia.

With the ex­cep­tion of go­ing out for es­sen­tial ac­tiv­i­ties such as get­ting gro­ceries, Hum­boldt County res­i­dents have been or­dered to stay at home and non-es­sen­tial busi­nesses have been or­dered to shut down, be­gin­ning at mid­night, one minute af­ter 11:59 p.m. Thurs­day.

Es­sen­tial ac­tiv­i­ties

• Per­form ac­tiv­i­ties es­sen­tial to their health and safety, such as ob­tain med­i­cal sup­plies and med­i­ca­tion, go­ing to a doc­tor and get­ting the things they need to work from home

• Get­ting gro­ceries and other es­sen­tial sup­plies for them­selves or de­liv­er­ing them to oth­ers

• Go­ing for walks, hikes or runs, while prac­tic­ing 6 feet of so­cial dis­tanc­ing and not us­ing com­mu­nal equip­ment like play­grounds

• To go to work at a place pro­vid­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices

• To care for fam­ily mem­bers or an­i­mals at an­other lo­ca­tion

County Health Of­fi­cer Teresa Frankovich is­sued the or­der, set to last through April 9, at a press con­fer­ence at the Hum­boldt County Board of Su­per­vi­sors Cham­bers on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. The or­der, Frankovich said, isn’t be­cause there are any new con­firmed cases of COVID-19 — there was one con­firmed case in Fe­bru­ary that re­cov­ered out of 87 tests to date con­ducted both by the county Pub­lic Health lab and by com­mer­cial en­ti­ties. But it’s likely, Frankovich said, that the virus is be­ing trans­mit­ted at low lev­els “be­fore it gets on the radar.”

“This move to­day for us al­lows us to be proac­tive about try­ing to limit any ad­di­tional spread if there is (COVID-19) ex­ist­ing in our com­mu­nity,” Frankovich said, “and also to slow it when it ar­rives at our doorstep if it’s not al­ready here.”

Vi­o­lat­ing the or­der would be con­sid­ered a mis­de­meanor, said Hum­boldt County Sher­iff Wil­liam Hon­sal, adding that warn­ings would be is­sued to first-time violators.

“Our goal is to achieve com­pli­ance through ed­u­ca­tion first,” Hon­sal said. “We are al­ways go­ing to ex­plore that first and then ask for vol­un­tary com­pli­ance. The last thing we want to do is cite some­one or ar­rest some­one for vi­o­lat­ing this.”

At the same time, Hon­sal said, if peo­ple aren’t com­ply­ing, law en­force­ment will do ev­ery­thing in its power to help pre­vent the spread of COVID-19.

Nurs­ing homes have been or­dered not to al­low vis­i­tors un­less a “res­i­dent is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing end of life,” the or­der states.

Es­sen­tial busi­nesses are al­lowed to con­tinue their op­er­a­tions, while oth­ers can main­tain min­i­mum ba­sic op­er­a­tions. Min­i­mum ba­sic op­er­a­tions is de­fined by the or­der as help­ing em­ploy­ees pre­pare to work re­mote and car­ry­ing out “the min­i­mum nec­es­sary ac­tiv­i­ties to main­tain the value of the busi­ness’s in­ven­tory, en­sure se­cu­rity, process pay­roll and em­ployee ben­e­fits, or re­lated func­tions.”

Es­sen­tial busi­nesses in­clude:

• Gro­cery stores, farm­ers’ markets, food banks and other es­tab­lish­ments that pro­vide gro­ceries

• Agri­cul­ture

• “Busi­nesses that are nec­es­sary to sup­ply agri­cul­ture, food, and bev­er­age cul­ti­va­tion, pro­cess­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion”

• So­cial ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tions

• News­pa­per, tele­vi­sion, radio and other me­dia

• Gas sta­tions and auto re­pair shops

• Banks and other fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions

• Hard­ware and home im­prove­ment stores and nurs­eries

• Plumbers, elec­tri­cians, ex­ter­mi­na­tors and other ser­vice providers “nec­es­sary to main­tain­ing the safety, san­i­ta­tion, and es­sen­tial op­er­a­tions of res­i­dences,” es­sen­tial ac­tiv­i­ties and es­sen­tial busi­nesses

• Ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions

• Laun­dro­mats, dry clean­ers and laun­dry ser­vice providers

• Restau­rants and other fa­cil­i­ties, but only for de­liv­ery or carry out

• Busi­nesses sup­ply­ing prod­ucts needed for peo­ple to work from home

• Busi­nesses sup­ply­ing prod­ucts to en­hance the qual­ity of life “in a way that pre­vents han­dling by the cus­tomer prior to pur­chase, such as for curb­side pick-up”

• Busi­nesses that sup­ply other es­sen­tial busi­nesses

• Busi­nesses that ship or deliver gro­ceries and other goods and ser­vices to res­i­dences

• Taxis and other pri­vate trans­porta­tion nec­es­sary for es­sen­tial ac­tiv­i­ties

• Home-based care for se­niors, adults or children

• Res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties and shel­ters for se­niors, adults and children

• Pro­fes­sional ser­vices, rang­ing from lawyers to ac­coun­tants

• Child care fa­cil­i­ties

Re­sponse from lo­cal cities

In re­sponse to Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment, Eureka Mayor Susan Sea­man said she was go­ing to al­low county agen­cies to take the lead on de­vel­op­ing lo­cal poli­cies, in or­der to pre­serve “one voice” for res­i­dents to fol­low.

“We want to make sure ev­ery­body is cov­ered at once, not at lit­tle pock­ets at a time,” Sea­man said of the city’s de­ci­sion not to es­tab­lish its own poli­cies dur­ing the shel­ter in place event.

In­stead, Eureka city man­ager Dean Lot­ter and other staff are co­or­di­nat­ing with the county to es­tab­lish a joint re­sponse. Sea­man said she has ad­vo­cated for a coun­ty­wide de­ci­sion not to al­low evic­tions dur­ing the shel­ter in place or­der. New­som has en­cour­aged lo­cal gov­ern­ments through­out Cal­i­for­nia to adopt such a pol­icy. At a re­cent city coun­cil meet­ing, Lot­ter an­nounced that the city had in­stalled mul­ti­ple pub­lic hand­wash­ing sta­tions in Eureka, in­clud­ing one near the Eureka Res­cue Mis­sion.

Sea­man, mean­while, re­cently wrote a blog post urg­ing a “cul­ture of kind­ness” among city res­i­dents dur­ing what she called an un­prece­dented stretch of time.

In Ar­cata, Mayor Michael Win­kler said Thurs­day the city coun­cil will soon hold a spe­cial meet­ing, likely to de­clare a pub­lic health emer­gency. Win­kler said the coun­cil will also con­sider re­strict­ing ten­ant evic­tions while shel­ter­ing in place is man­dated.

“Th­ese are strange and chal­leng­ing times,” Win­kler said. “This virus has caused a large amount of ill­ness and sig­nif­i­cant death, so our high­est pri­or­ity is pub­lic safety.”

City of­fi­cials in For­tuna did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment by presstime Thurs­day.


A man rides a bi­cy­cle past a sign posted over the win­dows of a store in San Fran­cisco, Thurs­day, March 19.

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