We write today as entrepreneurs, small business owners, restaurateurs, and residents of Orange County to express our grave concern for the County’s economic predicament as a result of the ‘shelter in’ and ‘non essential’ business shutdown orders from the State and County.
The predicate for the initial ‘shelter in’ and businesses shutdowns was the need to ‘flatten the curve’ of infections in order to assure that our healthcare system would not be overwhelmed. However, with each passing day it becomes more evident that the original statistical models driving these drastic measures were flawed and dramatically overstated the risks.
Hoag Hospital was the first hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient. During an April 15 video update, Dr. Brant-Zawadzki, Senior Physician Executive at Hoag Hospital, explained, “the numbers are now stabilizing and going down [in fact,] it’s not that the curve has flattened- we’re on the other side of the curve and heading down.” Dr. Martin Fee, Chief Clinical Officer and Head of Infection Control at Hoag Hospital, also added, “definitely in Orange County it has [flattened].” Orange County’s daily COVID-19 infections peaked on April 1 at 104 and has averaged 57 per day through April 19. This successful slowing of the spread of COVID-19 can be largely attributed to the actions of the State and Orange County Board of Supervisors. We thank the OC Board of Supervisors for its hard work and leadership to protect our community during this crisis.
But it has become clear that the status quo is not economically or socially sustainable, even in the short term. The stress of economic devastation and curtailed civil liberties could one day soon become untenable.
State unemployment claims exceed 2.7 million while Orange County claims are in the tens of thousands. As long as we remain in lockdown, these numbers are projected to climb to catastrophic levels.
It is time for the Orange County Supervisors to lead the County and State in economic recovery.
We understand that the Board of Supervisors is forming a task force to formulate a safe and responsible plan for reopening the Orange County economy and urge the Board to move with the greatest urgency and develop this plan in no more than 10 days. We expect the Board will work with the State where possible, but where necessary we urge you to move faster and more broadly as our County statistics dictate. We understand these decisions are not without health and political risks, but believe the business community and the citizens of the County will offer broad and sustained support.
We believe it is possible to protect the health and safety of our communities without bankrupting them as well. If we act now and put together an aggressive plan to restart the OC economy as well as minimize health risks, then businesses can begin the process of contacting vendors, employees, customers and preparing to smoothly transition and reopen.
We are facing an economic meltdown due to the shutdown. The citizens of Orange County are prepared to continue practicing social distancing and rigorous hygiene protocols. Our residents are smart, industrious, and responsible.
We urge you to act now for the thousands in Orange County and millions across our state who’ve lost their jobs.
Orange County must get back to work. And the Orange County Supervisors can and must lead the way. You have our unqualified support.
John Warner, President of the Lincoln Club.
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