Anderson asks for more enforcement info

County Supervisor Joel Anderson (center) during a recent press conference.

San Diego County District 2 Supervisor Joel Anderson said a Jan. 12 proposal he made during a Board of Supervisors meeting about amendments to pandemic-related business closure ordinances had three points he wanted to clarify.

He said the county of San Diego should provide scientific data showing any activity is a health risk before it is limited or restricted; that policy enforcement should be applied consistently and fairly; that the county should publish criteria used for enforcement on the public website before moving forward with that enforcement.

His fellow board members agreed with the spirit of suggestion the Board of Supervisors did not word-for-word approve Anderson’s points, they did approve having enforcement criteria publicly released and maintained scientific data should be the guiding principle for busi­ness operations; enforcement actions against residents and businesses deemed in violation of COVID-19 will be based on readily available scientific evidence.

That distinction— basing law enforcement on scientific evidence— is important, Anderson said.

“I’m advocating people follow the law but when you read the science, you can judge for yourself if it is political science or medical science,” Anderson said.

To his first point— that the county should provide scientific data showing any activity is a health risk before it is limited or restricted—Anderson brought up a Dec. 8 Cali­fornia Health and Human Services press conference.

Department Secretary Mark Ghaly said at that conference the decision to limiting outdoor din­ing, turning to restaurants to de­liver and provide takeout options instead, “really has to do with the goal of trying to keep people at home”.

Anderson said the goal of keep­ing people at home has more to do with policy than science, and pushed to have the science behind COVID-related policies made more public.

Secondly, Anderson said policy enforcement should be applied consistently and fairly because having businesses held to differ­ent standards— standards he maintains are not based in medical science— results in unfair enforce­ment of measures intended to keep the public safe.

As an example, he compared seating at restaurants with seating on public transportation. Under current directives, restaurant own­ers are barred from seating patrons inside, ostensibly so strangers from different households do not come in contact with each other in a closed setting.

However, Anderson said the same patrons who are not allowed to sit near each other in a sanitized eating area are theoretically able to ride the trolley alongside each other without any sanitizing after one person leaves a seat and an­other takes their place.

That practice, Anderson sug­gested, amounts to placing extra restrictions on one type of business over another despite the same pur­ported goal: in this case, to keep strangers from coming in contact with each other.

Finally, Anderson said the coun­ty should publish criteria used for enforcement on the public website before moving forward with that enforcement.

District 1 Supervisor Nora Var­gas said she supported Anderson’s amendments.

“For too long we’ve politicized COVID. I supported the amend­ment made by Supervisor Ander­son as I am committed to making decisions based on science and data,” Vargas said.

In a Jan. 20 statement, Board Chair and District 4 Supervisor Na­than Fletcher said from the start of this pandemic, the county of San Diego has based its public health decisions on the science around the spread of COVID-19 and the advice of medical professionals.

“I appreciate Supervisor Ander­son’s interest in wanting to follow the science when it comes to tack­ling COVID-19 and thanks to his amendment last week all of the sci­ence is now transparently shared on our county website,” Fletcher said .

Current enforcement criteria is now posted within the Coronavirus Disease 2019 page on the San Di­ego county public website.

At that same Jan. 12 meeting, the Board of Supervisors also passed a policy to increase the County of San Diego’s enforcement on enti­ties that are not complying with the COVID-19 public health orders.

“We are increasing resources and reaffirming our commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in San Diego County by expanding the scope and commitment of en­forcement by our county’s compli­ance team,” Fletcher said.

Businesses not in compliance with public health orders will not be eligible to receive county relief funding.

Anderson said he is “trying to get life back to normal and this first step is to gather information” be­fore considering what might come next.

Anderson asks for more enforcement info

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