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San Joaquin County To Apply For Reopening Flexibility As Businesses Get Desperate

STOCKTON (CBS13) — San Joaquin County has joined a growing list of communities applying for local control over reopening.

Business owners are desperate to open and pay their bills, but increasing coronavirus cases and deaths will make it tough to meet the governor's requirements.

"We're now getting to a desperate stage where our economy, in order to bounce back, is going to have to step up and go to work," said Tom Patti.

As a business owner and county supervisor, Patti speaks for the side that is ready to open now. He's organizing a rally at the Sherwood Mall Saturday at 11 a.m.

"Businesses want to serve their customers and they want to do it safely. They'll wear face guards if that's what we decide needs to happen. They'll gladly embrace doing it," he said.

READ ALSO: Rural County Crackdown: State Warns Counties Could Lose Disaster Funding For Reopening Early

Patti disagrees with the governor's approach, and said: "one size does not fit all." He wants to see local control without conditions.

But Governor Newsom is only willing to give flexibility if counties can meet requirements like minimum daily testing and no deaths for 14 days.

That's a challenge for San Joaquin County, where two deaths occurred this week.

County leaders issued a revised public health order Friday calling for continued social distancing "based on evidence of escalating occurrence of COVID-19." The order also said, "current efforts are not producing the desired result of reducing spread."

READ: As California Reopening Begins, Newsom Says Expect More Soon

"We have to be extra careful. I think that's the big thing. It's tough at this time, but the longer we can hold out, the better we'll be in the long run," said Shellie Lima, director of the Office of Emergency Services for San Joaquin County.

Lima said increased cases in the county are due to increased testing. She said a large population and proximity to the Bay Area are a challenge for the county but that's not stopping the effort to push ahead with reopening.

Until things improve, she asks for patience.

"In the end, it will be worth it because we will have saved lives," Lima said.

El Dorado County is pushing ahead with its application for flexibility. They started immediately after the announcement Thursday and feel confident they can meet the governor's demands.

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