Butte County COVID disaster kept in effect – Chico Enterprise-Record

OROVILLE — In a move that was largely symbolic, a divided Butte County Board of Supervisors voted to retain a local emergency declaration related to COVID-19.

The vote came after a long line of speakers urged the board to rescind the resolution, even though that wouldn’t change any existing rules concerning masks or vaccines or anything else about the response to the pandemic.

County Chief Administrative Officer Andy Pickett explained before public comment opened that the county doesn’t have any mask or vaccine rules, and no control over schools or private firms that have imposed them.

However, for the next hour and a half speakers came up and implored the supervisors — and at a couple of points threatened them — to rescind the measure.

Speakers argued the death rate wasn’t very high, and that even those numbers were inflated. They called the test for the virus inaccurate.

They said the vaccines weren’t helpful and that more than a million people had adverse side-effects, including deaths. “They’re out to kill us off, that’s what it looks like to me,” one said. More than one called the shots “experimental gene therapy.”

They criticized hospital care, saying they were just out to make money. They said doctors were being prevented from providing certain kinds of care, and that drugs that have a positive effect when given at the onset of symptoms were being withheld.

Some said it was a government conspiracy based on lies and a false narrative. The emergency declaration was illegal and unconstitutional. Others called mask and vaccine requirements a violation of their rights.

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But when Chico Supervisor Tami Ritter asked what would change if the resolution was rescinded. Pickett replied, “Nothing.”

He earlier had described the emergency declaration as “An administrative tool to provide access to the resources we need.”

Those resources are money, flowing from the state and federal government, that the county uses for things like rental assistance and food aid.

Normally in an emergency, the county spends money on what’s necessary and then seeks reimbursement. This time, the county didn’t have to ask. “They just pushed it out there.” It’s still coming.

And that might be the only downside of rescinding the ordinance. At some point down the line, an auditor could find the county was taking disaster relief funds with no proclaimed disaster, and demand repayment. It could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Pickett called the danger of that small, but said “We’ve never been here before. We don’t know how it will play out.”

After public comment closed, Chico Supervisor Debra Lucero asked whether the ongoing disaster resolution for the Camp Fire and North Complex fires would be rescinded too.

“It’s either against the Constitution or it’s not. Are we going to be consistent or not?”

Board Chairman Bill Connelly of Oroville pointed out that wasn’t on the agenda, and County Counsel Bruce Alpert — attending remotely — explained some differences between the COVID and fire situations.


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