FOLSOM (CBS13) — Sacramento-area lawmakers are looking to get rid of the county-wide tier system altogether and break it down into zip codes.
As counties work to reopen, places like Folsom that have relatively low cases are looking to get out from under the shadow of Sacramento County.
“County by county is just too broad when we have a really tight-knit,” said Folsom resident Kimberly Morphis.
In a letter, Folsom mayor Sarah Aquino, along with Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Senator Brian Dahle, is asking the state to allow counties to reopen by zip code if they meet state requirements. It’s a model the New York is already using.
“Treating similarly situated communities in very different ways creates needless hardship,” Kiley said in a statement. “There is no scientific reason why our state cannot allow low-risk areas within counties to reopen their economies and restore the livelihoods of their residents.”
If the approach were implemented, Folsom would be considered in the orange tier, instead of its current red tier status.
“If part of a county is performing well and the data supports that part of the county moving ahead one color tier, that would allow parts of our economy to reopen. But also, just as important, if we can take that more detailed data it allows us to allocate those public health resources where they are needed most,” explained Aquino.
The change would allow business owners like, Erik Schmid, more opportunities. Schmid owns two breweries in town. He had to shut down one of his breweries “The Filling Station” and start making pizza at his other location, The Red Bus Brewing Company, to stay in business.
“We effectively turned this place into a restaurant which we have been forced to do,” he explained “If you don’t evolve you will die in this scenario.”
Schmid has no room to offer food at The Filling Station. If re-opening rules allowed restrictions to be lifted based on zip code, Schmid could open the brewery without being required to serve food.
“People in Folsom are already going to the other zip code anyways. It is not like they are not going somewhere to dine. What difference would it make if they were dining here? It’s an unfair advantage that gives business to surrounding counties,” Schmid said.
In a statement to CBS13, the state’s department of public health said the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” is a science and data-based approach to tightening and loosening restrictions.
“We are always happy to talk to stakeholders about what future iterations to the Blueprint might look like, but with flu season right around the corner, we are taking a slow and stringent approach to protect the health of all Californians,” the statement read.
David Burns, who has family in the Folsom area, believes the zip code model could be positive but still has reservations.
“At the end of the day, we are still dealing with a pandemic. I think airing on the side of caution overall is still the best approach,” said Burns.
Those who live in areas with low case numbers like Folsom resident, Kimberly Morphis, believe one area shouldn’t have to pay the price for the entire county.
“It no longer makes sense. We need to get our businesses open. Our tax dollars are going out to the counties that our sandwiching us in,” she said.