Pushed in part by Supervisor Patrick Jones, Shasta County could take a stand against the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to meet on September 21 to discuss a resolution and send a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom rejecting the mandate, which takes effect October 1. The September meeting will start at 4 p.m.
Also on Tuesday, supervisors voted to schedule the public appeal hearing for the Shasta County Planning Commission decision rejecting the controversial Fountain Wind project.
Supervisors will resume the vaccine mandate debate as COVID-19 cases in Shasta County continue to escalate, due to low vaccination rates and the more contagious Delta variant.
Local hospitals recorded their highest number of COVID-19 patients on August 23, when they reported a total of 91. On Monday, health officials reported that two other county residents had died from the virus.
In Trinity County, masks are now mandatory in all indoor public spaces, regardless of immunization status.
District 4 Supervisor Jones, who has sharply criticized the vaccine mandate, brought forward a motion to support a resolution before the board votes to meet on September 21. District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh supported Jones’ motion.
“This is a simple one-page resolution that says we do not support forced vaccinations and will allow our healthcare workers and our citizens to make a choice,” Jones said.
District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti, who chairs the board, said the county was working on a letter it would recommend sending to the governor and on a resolution “in terms of how we feel about this issue. particular”. Chimenti did not specify the content of the letter or the resolution.
District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty told Jones his resolution was good, but reminded him and others in the Chambers that the county only had some power.
“This mandate comes from the state, not from Shasta County,” Moty said. “We can talk and tell the state what we think, but that does not alleviate the situation. … It’s just an opinion, ”Moty said.
While he said Shasta County must take a stand against the state’s continued uniform approach to the pandemic, Moty said he was concerned about healthcare workers.
“What concerns me are health workers, because they are not approved by us but by the state. … It’s about protecting their license and the state could step in and enforce it, ”Moty said.
Arthur Gorman, a healthcare worker who spoke at the meeting, said he represents other healthcare workers who want “medical freedom” to choose whether they receive the COVID vaccine. Gorman said “we’d rather take care of our patients” than worry about a mandate for vaccinations.
But others, like Benjamin Nowain, were in disbelief that supervisors were even considering the issue.
“It’s real, and you have the tool to stop it,” he said of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
Supervisors in a hurry to make a decision on the wind farm
Under pressure from neighbors who oppose the Fountain Wind project in eastern Shasta County, supervisors agreed to hear ConnectGen LLC’s appeal against the planning commission’s decision at 1 p.m. on September 27.
The commission rejected the project at a marathon meeting on June 22 at Shasta College.
Maggie Osa criticized supervisors for not having already held the appeal hearing. She argued the county was breaking its own rules by not scheduling it within 30 days of the company filing the appeal.
“It’s been over 60 days since the appeal was filed,” Osa said.
Osa and others are also upset that the county is considering a review of the project. ConnectGen said it is working on the feedback it received from the public meeting at Shasta College and is ready to act on it.
“Allowing any new information, including a reduction in the number of turbines… is a violation of Shasta County code,” Osa said.
As it stands, Fountain Wind would include 71 wind turbines up to 679 feet tall – taller than the Shasta Dam – on 4,464 acres of leased woodland about 6 miles west of Burney.
The call meeting is scheduled for council chambers on Court Street in downtown Redding. But the location could change. Chimenti said he was concerned about the upsurge in COVID cases and the number of people gathered in one location, which was the case at the June planning committee meeting at Shasta College Theater.
Alternative emergency alert system
Shasta County is looking to invest in an emergency alert system that uses the FM radio band to broadcast vital messages.
Eric Magrini, the county’s deputy general manager, told supervisors on Tuesday that Alert FM would offer an alternative to broadcasting alerts, especially to residents of rural areas of the county.
“What is happening with our residents living in the foothills is that they can often have a landline… and if you have a fire it could compromise that landline,” Magrini said, adding that the towers of cell phones could also be rendered useless due to fires. “When the power goes out, you lose all connectivity. “
FM alert messages would be broadcast by satellite using existing FM radio stations.
“Receivers can be programmed to emit an audible siren, flashing light, as well as display the alert message as text,” Magrini wrote in a report to supervisors.
The receiver is designed so that people who are hard of hearing or visually impaired can receive emergency alerts, Magrini said. The receivers would be made available to the public to be placed in homes. Receivers would cost $ 60 per single family home. The receivers would also have a 30-day battery backup.
The total cost to the county of the system for the first five years would be $ 935,000, Magrini said.
Supervisors asked Magrini to seek more funding and grants before considering voting on approving the system.
David Benda covers business, development and everything else for the USA TODAY network in Redding. He also writes the weekly column “Buzz on the Street”. He is part of a team of dedicated journalists who investigate wrongdoing, cover the latest news and tell other stories about your community. Join him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and support this work, please register today.