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Placer County rescinds COVID-19 health emergency, prompting health officer to resign

Placer County Public Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson, seen here in March, has resigned.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

With just over 3,000 cases of coronavirus infections, Placer County voted to end its local COVID-19 health emergency this week, prompting the county’s health officer to submit her notice of resignation.

Residents will still be expected to follow California’s overall guidance, but the county says it will not enforce the state rules.

In a statement, the Board of Supervisors cited concerns that the state framework for measuring COVID-19 mischaracterizes the effects of the disease in the county and “harms the community’s economic, health, mental and social well-being.”

The action prompted Public Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson to resign, effective Sept. 25.

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“It is with a heavy heart that I submit this letter of resignation. Today’s action by the Placer County Board of Supervisors made it clear that I can no longer effectively serve in my role as Placer County Health Officer and Public Health Director,” Sisson wrote Tuesday. “I am grateful to have been granted the tremendous privilege and responsibility of protecting and promoting the health of Placer County’s 400,000 residents over the last 10 months.”

Sisson is among a handful of health officers throughout the state who have resigned following a clash with local officials.

Former Orange County health officer Dr. Nichole Quick resigned in early June following outcry over a face covering mandate. The requirement was lifted when current Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau took over, but a California mandate — brought on by conversations between Chau and state officials — later superseded the Orange County policy.

Placer County issued a local health emergency March 3 after a second patient tested positive for the virus. There have been 36 deaths in the county, among more than 14,000 in the state.

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County officials cited a low level of transmission of COVID-19 in their decision to lift the emergency health order and raised concerns about the community’s economy, which like many in the state, suffered during months-long closures. The county is now in Tier 2 of the state’s four-stage color-coded monitoring system, meaning more businesses — including movie theaters, restaurants and places of worship — can ease restrictions and open in limited capacity.

“We cannot continue to keep our community shut down for some unknown amount of time as determined by the ever-changing metrics according to the governor,” Supervisor Bonnie Gore said.


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