"It's been 10 weeks," he said. "Our hospitalizations are incredibly low in this county. The growth rate of the infection in this county is decreasing. And yet we have not seen a lot of movement and changes of the health order."
Back in March, when counties began to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Essick said Sonoma County did everything they were "supposed to do" — from issuing the shelter-in-place order and gathering personal protective equipment for staff, to encouraging residents to wear masks, sanitize and practice social distancing.
"Those things were really effective in Sonoma County, we have really crushed the curve here," Essick said. While he appreciates the guidance from county health officials, he believes it's "time to re-evaluate."
So far, Essick said there have only been 13 citations for violating the county's order and 19 warnings issued since it went into effect in March.
Earlier this month, the state accepted Sonoma County's variance attestation form — outlining the county's readiness to move beyond the state's schedule. Sonoma has since amended its public health order to allow for outdoor restaurants and summer camps to reopen.
Then, on Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health announced that counties who've moved further along in the process, like Sonoma, could begin reopening hair salons and places of worship — with modifications to health procedures. But Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said the county is not currently expanding openings beyond that.
Essick said he's repeatedly asked the public health department for more information and transparency on why the county has not moved to a less restrictive system, despite its relatively low COVID-19 case count. But he said the health department has not provided the information he's asking for.
For example: Sonoma is currently reporting 42 hospitalizations. But Essick said health officials won't clarify if those people are currently being hospitalized or if that's the total number since the county began reporting them.