California county plans to defy Gov. Newsom, lift stay-home order

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At least one California county says it can no longer afford to abide by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials in Modoc County, in the far northeast corner of the state, say it's one of five Golden State counties with no confirmed cases of the virus – and the local economy has been hurting.

So beginning Friday, Modoc officials plan to reopen their county of 9,000 people, according to reports. The county’s board of supervisors signed a resolution to that effect Tuesday, reported.


“Modoc County is unique in that our residents and businesses have been able to adapt their framework to fit the physical distancing guidelines put forth by California,” a joint statement from the county sheriff’s office and public health director says, according to “Modoc needs to be open to salvage our local economy and to move forward in this pandemic.

“We know that we need to do this now, we need to do this in the smartest way possible and we need to do this together.”

Modoc officials insist they aren’t being hasty or irresponsible in their plans.

“We cannot stress enough how important it is to do this right. COVID-19 is not over,” their statement said. “This is the beginning of a very long road to recovery. The reopening plan was made in the best interest of residents' physical, mental, and economic health.”

Modoc officials say the state’s shelter-in-place rules would resume in the county if more than two COVID-19 cases are detected there, and seniors 65 or older, and other at-risk people are being asked to remain at home until May 15, with orders for them to be reevaluated at that time if the county still has no confirmed infections, the report said.

In addition, restaurants and bars in the county must limit customer occupancy to 50 percent of capacity, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“This is a plan, this is not an order,” the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “This is simply what we are proposing that is eligible to open if preventative measures are possible.”

On Wednesday, Newsom spoke out against reopening plans that would precede the end of his orders, saying such actions could risk the success of the state’s virus mitigation efforts.

“Why put ourselves in that position when we are just a week or two away from significant modifications of our stay-at-home [order], where we can begin a Phase 2, beginning to reopen sectors of our economy that are low risk?" Newsom said, according to the L.A. Times.

The decision by the Modoc County coincides with restlessness in other parts of the state, as the governor’s order enters its second month.

In Humboldt County, Sheriff William Honsal said his primary job was to defend the personal freedoms of local residents.

"As sheriff, I am the protector of constitutional rights in Humboldt County, and if an order is issued that I believe violates our constitutional rights, I will not enforce it," Honsal said, according to KGO-TV of San Francisco.

Officials in six counties -- Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba, Sutter -- have reportedly asked Newsom if they may begin loosening restrictions, and parts of Stanislaus County have done so as well, reported.

In Southern California, the Huntington Beach city council voted 5-2 Thursday night to allow its attorney to challenge Newsom’s order closing all beaches in Orange County, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.


Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner also blasted Newsom’s beach order, which followed the governor’s anger over weekend crowds flocking to the county’s beaches.

“It is not wise to make public policy from Sacramento based on a couple of photographs out of a local paper,” Wagner said. “I urge the governor to trust the locals.”

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