San Diego Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher delivered the State of the County address from the county’s Emergency Medical Operation Center on Feb. 18. Major topics of the address were the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, post-pandemic recovery, racial equality and racial injustice, economic injustice, and the continuation of county-led projects such as Waterfront Park and the San Diego River Park and its commitment to the environment.
One of the first in the nation to do so, the County declared a public health state of emergency on COVID-19 early last year.
“From this modest warehouse, this region massive mobilization was equipped with masks, ventilators, testing supplies, PPE, and now vaccines. At its heart, thousands of dedicated workers responding to the ever changing incredibly challenging pandemic of the last year,” said Fletcher.
“A year that has tested us and sometimes divided us. A year of tremendous sacrifice and a year of tremendous loss. A year that has showed us the very best of each other, and sadly, some of the worst. But through it all we never gave up. We are still battling COVID-19, but the tide is turning. I have no doubt that the state of our county is resilient.”
Fletcher said together, the community is ready to rise, rebuild the economy, education, and that the county’s commitment is comprehensive action to make life fundamentally better for all.
“Our immediate priority continues to be controlling and defeating coronavirus. COVID cases are down, vaccinations are up, and hospitalizations are stabilized. But we must continue to be resilient,” he said.
In January, the county launched the state’s first county vaccination superstation at Petco Park. There are now five superstations and more than 15 community points of distribution in the areas hit hardest by COVID, said Fletcher.
“Together with our healthcare partners, San Diego County has administered more than 684,000 vaccines,” he said. “But that is not enough. We have to do more. We stand ready to offer vaccines to those with underlying conditions and disabilities on March 15.”
Fletcher said leading the county’s public health response has been a daily choice between bad options and worse options, trying to do the least harm.
“We are delivering over $300 million in economic aid to families, small business and nonprofits, but it did not stop the pain,” he said. “It barely softened the blow. There are too many small businesses on the brink, and too many families pushed to the edge.”
Fletcher said the county will always honor its commitment to the unincorporated community. He said even with crime rates at historic lows, the priority on public safety cannot be lost.
“We have an opportunity to do more making fairness, justice and opportunity a core principle guiding our actions,” he said. “Our community cannot rise to its full potential, if so many San Diegans are prevented from ever rising at all.”
Fletcher said that is why the county brought back the Human Relations Commission, strengthened the Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board, declared racism as a public health crisis, and established the office of Racial and Inequity Justice.
Fletcher said this recession is the most unequal recession in American history.
“We must fight to fix all of the economic inequalities COVID has exposed,” he said. “The county decisions we make on wages, job security and public health funding must always demonstrate a commitment to the worker who held our community together in this tough time.”
Fletcher said working with Supervisor Joel Anderson, they will help develop strategies to help rebuild and relaunch the local economy safely, and we will not leave small businesses and industries hardest hit by COVID behind.
“We will also join the call of the San Diego Regional Economic Corporation to increase county contracting with local businesses,” he said. “A 5% increase would inject $75 million more into our annual economy.”
Anderson said that his partnership with Chairman Fletcher on transparency, closing illegal pot shops, and park funding in District 2 has already shown results for his district and county residents.
“I look forward to working with him on developing a post COVID economic recovery plan,” said Anderson. “In the coming year I anticipate collaborating wit all of my board colleagues on the many issues we share common interest.”