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SLO County chambers of commerce urging Gov. Newsom to exclude county from stay-at-home order

Jocelyn Brennan, South County Chambers
The logos of some of the petition's signees.

In response to the state’s stay-at-home order now in effect, local business groups are circulating an online petition, urging Governor Newsom to exclude San Luis Obispo County from the new lockdown.

Although SLO County now has four people in the ICU with COVID-19, and many available hospital beds, it is being lumped into the same region as L.A. and San Diego, causing the county to go into shelter-at-home orders for at least three weeks.

“Our county has done a lot better than some of these big cities," Jocelyn Brennan with South County Chambers of Commerce said. "So it just didn’t seem fair that we were grouped in with them.”

Brennan started the petition urging the governor to exclude SLO County from the SoCal region. She said businesses are already having enough trouble staying open during the pandemic.

“They’ve been told you can open, now you have to close, no you can open in limited capacity," Brennan said. "So it’s just been really really tough, and then to be right before Christmas.”

The San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Morro Bay and Paso Robles chambers have signed the letter as well. On Monday afternoon, the regional, private-sector economic coalition REACH sent out a newsletter saying it is supporting the pushback effort.

"We join them in frustration that there’s no sound rationale in creating a Franken-region that covers far-flung locations such as San Diego and Mono County along with the Central Coast and encompasses more residents than the other four regions put together," according to REACH staff. 

Gina Fitzpatrick with the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce believes businesses have proved they can operate safely, with the county experiencing low COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths compared to other counties.

“It’s not to say that we don’t believe that we do need to do our part and have some type of adjustment and make sure that safety protocol is first and foremost,” Fitzpatrick said.

Also joining the petition, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and the SLO Coast Wine Collective. The online petition is open for community members to sign before it gets sent to Governor Newsom's office and the California Department of Public Health.

“Someone signs it every ten seconds," Brennan said Monday. "I was expecting a pretty strong response, but that surprised me.”

Brennan said even if the petition doesn’t convince the governor to exclude SLO County, she thinks the effort is the right thing to do. 

“I would be very surprised if this changes anything," Brennan said. "But I still think it’s worth a try.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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