It’s beginning to look like the state mandated stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols instituted at the outset of COVID-19 are working. We’re seeing a flattening of the curve, so to speak.
The city of Tehachapi had requested and worked with Kern County Department of Public Health Services for more detailed data than the number of cases they were providing; they obliged by launching a new online portal last week that tells a more complete story of the impact of this virus in our community. It hasn’t been as predicted. Much of that has been through the efforts of you. For that many thanks.
From the president to the governor of California, there’s a movement to phase in the return to some sort of normal in our lives, although it will be different. Since the outset of these orders and the virus’ presence in our county, the city of Tehachapi has taken a common-sense approach to the challenges it presents. We have received phone calls and inquiries about the city “mandating” the use of masks and other personal protective equipment. Unlike some of our neighbors that chose to do so, we felt those decisions were best left up to you. Common sense says if you feel you need a mask, you’ll wear one.
Unfortunate stories from around the country paint law enforcement in a negative light as the result of the “enforcement” of stay-at-home orders, PPE rules and large gatherings. Again, under the leadership of Police Chief Kent Kroeger, the Tehachapi Police Department took a more common-sense approach. It also helped that citizens and businesses did their part in working within the regulations placed upon them. We didn’t have the desire nor did we want to become a police state. The men and women of our department have a tough enough job as it is.
The common-sense approach will also be used as we start reopening our lives a bit. There are states that have chosen to do so already. Governor Newsom is monitoring health numbers and will reevaluate the stay-at-home order once it expires April 30. That being said, the city of Tehachapi is working on our own reopening plan, so to speak. While we can’t control the openings of non-essential businesses due to state and county permits, we can asses our business practices and help our economy be ready to return to work as quickly as possible.
We are also being very vocal about Kern County and the difference between our rural setting and the highly-dense urban areas where much of the outbreak has occurred. We’ve been reassured through our state Sen. Shannon Grove that the reality in Kern County, the reality in Tehachapi, for that matter, will be communicated to the governor. While he may be hesitant to reopen California as a whole, there are certainly parts of the state that can get back to a modified-version of normal; we are championing that cause.
Common sense was a driving factor as we dealt with coronavirus and it will continue to be a driving factor in this city as Tehachapi strives to be a leader in Kern County once again. It doesn’t pay to promote mass hysteria when we’ve all sacrificed so much to flatten the curve. We will continue to evaluate where we are, push for real data to reach the governor and prepare for Tehachapi’s return to whatever normal will be as soon as possible.
Greg Garrett is Tehachapi's city manager. He can be reached at email@example.com.