Following the swearing in of the new and re-elected councilmembers last night, District 6 Councilman Trevor O’Neil used the council comments portion of the meeting to take aim at the latest in Governor Newsom’s ever-changing criteria and strategies for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic:
We have now been subjected to another stay at home order that is just crushing our already struggling economy. Many residents and businesses continue to let me know they believe these latest shut-down orders are arbitrary and unfair. Gatherings of any number – even outside – have been banned. I can’t meet with one friend in a local park, even if we stay six feet away and wear masks, outside! We have a new ban on outdoor dining, which is one of the few things keeping some of our resort businesses and restaurant owners hanging on – even though there is no evidence that outdoor dining causes any significant spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, hundreds of patrons are still allowed to swarm to Costco, Target, and other big box stores to do their holiday shopping.
As we all know, the city of Anaheim has done more to assist our residents and businesses with this global pandemic than any city in the county. We’ve passed rental and housing assistance, small business grants. We’ve organized food distributions, mask distributions, COVID-19 testing and more.
We have done everything we can to work within the parameters that Governor and state health officials have placed upon us, but our residents and businesses are still hurting – and more now than ever. Thousands of people are out of work. Long established businesses are going under. And the timing couldn’t be worse during the holiday season, which is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy provides a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening communities that fails to allow the flexibility to respond in a data-driven way to what is happening within our own community. We have been pigeon-holed into a region sharing health standards that not only touches neighboring counties, but that stretches hundreds of miles to the north through mountains, deserts, farmlands – areas that couldn’t be more geographically different from Anaheim and Orange County.
And so, I’d like to agendize a council resolution appealing to the Governor and state health officials, imploring them to include local input and to use evidence-based reasoning in their decision to implement shut-downs or delay further reopening. As I have said many times, how we deal with the pandemic does not have to be a choice between public health and the economy, the two can coexist. But as a city that has been more economically impacted by COVID than perhaps any other in the country, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to make sure our voices are heard and that we stand up for our residents and businesses.
Councilman O’Neil hits the nail directly on the head. It is painfully clear Governor Newsom’s ever-evolving policies are not driven by data and science, lack common sense and consistency, and have been more successful at inflicting damage on the economy and people’s livelihoods than on containing the coronavirus.