City Requests State Health Officer Clarification Regarding Local Control of Reopening

PASADENA, Calif.—City of Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Ying-Ying Goh has contacted the California Department of Public Health advocating for local control over the reopening process. Up until now, Pasadena has been required to follow the state’s guidelines and the only local control was the ability to have stricter guidelines than the state. The governor signaled a change in course on this with the possibility that local health jurisdictions have some control over the reopening process. Specifically, the governor indicated that local health jurisdictions may apply for a “variance” to Stage 2 reopening requirements. If a variance were granted, a local jurisdiction could, for example, reopen restaurants or allow drive-through graduations, provided certain criteria were met.

Unfortunately, the City has been informed that the California Department of Public Health will not consider Pasadena’s variance request and will only consider such requests from counties despite what the governor has said. This will leave Pasadena and Long Beach locked into whatever LA County decides, without the ability to take advantage locally of what the governor has announced. Because it has its own health department, Pasadena is well-prepared to develop, promulgate and administer regulations that would allow for reopening according to local health indicators as well as the city's economic and social needs.

Cities that have their own health departments have been omitted from the required documentation; hence, Pasadena’s health officer is asking for clarification so that the City can seek a variance. This would allow for local control of reopening based on local health factors using Pasadena’s own authority and not that of the county.

“We are capable and confident of insuring adherence to all state requirements. We believe it is important to provide the latitude to exercise our local authority that the governor has conferred by his executive order. Therefore, we are respectfully requesting revisions to the COVID-19 Variance Attestation Form be made to allow for local control,” states Dr. Goh.

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