Newsom’s Threats Against Counties That Flout COVID-19 Rules Ring Hollow

It has been six months since Gavin Newsom threatened to withhold aid from counties that fail to enforce the state’s public health orders. But even as rising hospitalizations break hospital systems and deaths overwhelm morgues, counties that have failed to take coronavirus seriously haven’t lost a dime.

Placer’s decision to end its COVID-19 emergency declaration prompted its former health officer to resign. Sheriffs in El Dorado, Sacramento, and Riverside County have made names for themselves by openly refusing to enforce the rules.

“Unless there’s clear consequences for our health orders, people will continue to ignore them,” Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, told the Sacramento Bee. “Both businesses and individuals.”

Meantime, patients wait hours for ambulances and hospitals ration their oxygen supplies.

Though no counties have faced penalties, the cities of Atwater and Coalinga have. They allowed their businesses to stay open by declaring them “essential” in Coalinga’s case, or declaring the entire city a “sanctuary” for local business in the case of Atwater. The money they lost out on was redirected for testing, according to the state.

California continues to grapple with a tragic public health situation. The state recorded 36,487 new cases and 548 deaths on Tuesday.