MENDOCINO Co., 3/4/20 — Both the State of California and the County of Mendocino have declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the spread of COVID-19 (previously known as the novel coronavirus). This legal designation will allow both governments to operate more quickly in nimbly if the situation worsens, but do not reflect the existence of an actual crisis, and as the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office noted in a tweet, are actions taken “proactively.” Indeed, no cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mendocino County.
Since both the state and Mendocino County have declared an emergency, government agencies will be able to access additional funds, increases coordination between local, state, and federal government, and allow for federal re-reimbursement of other funds, in order to support local governments and better prepare for the likely spread of the COVID. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also issued a warning to the public that price gouging due to the coronavirus is illegal and to report any instances to local law enforcement.
The Mendocino County Sheriff and the Interim Public Health Director will be holding a press conference covering local COVID preparedness efforts on Thursday morning at 9 a.m., which will be live-streamed on The Mendocino Voice Facebook page and the county’s Youtube page.
So far there have no reported cases of the COVID in Mendocino County, but the first COVID-19 related death in the state has occurred Placer County, and public officials are encouraging the public to take preventative measures as the virus is likely to continuing spreading — including washing of hands and preparing to stay home when sick. The county has also set up a COVID hotline and email, and information is being updated at the county’s website.
The call center number is 707-234-6052 and the county’s COVID email is [email protected]. The call center is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Price-gouging, which is illegal, is defined as raising the price of goods more than 10 percent above normal due to an emergency, and can be reported to local law enforcement, or to the state attorney general’s office at 800-952-5225 or through the website. According to the A.G, the law applies to:
“…those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations, and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business.”California Attorney General’s Office
Governor Gavin Newsom also issued the following statement in response to the first death reported in California from COVID-19:
Jennifer and I extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this death in Placer County. The state is working with federal officials to follow up on contact tracing of individuals that may have been exposed to provide treatment and protect public health.
“This case demonstrates the need for continued local, state and federal partnership to identify and slow the spread of this virus. California is working around the clock to keep our communities safe, healthy and informed.Newsom’s statement from 3/4/20.
Here’s the emergency declaration from the county, below; the California declaration of emergency is available here. Here’s our previous coverage of COVID-19.
Mendocino County press release from 3/4/20:
Mendocino County Makes Emergency Declaration
to Prepare for Future Coronavirus (COVID-19) Activity
In partnership with Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer/Office of Emergency Services Director, Carmel J. Angelo and Mendocino County Health Officer, Dr. Noemi (Mimi) Doohan, the County has declared a public health emergency in order to prepare for future Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) activity in our community.
While Mendocino County still has ZERO cases of COVID-19 and ZERO persons under investigation, this emergency declaration has been made proactively as surrounding counties do have recent COVID-19 activity.
A declaration of emergency is a legal document that opens the door to further resources and coordination between local, state and federal agencies; helps speed up emergency planning; and, assists in emergency contracts or staffing. This declaration also allows for reimbursement by state and federal governments for local government initiatives that lessen the impact of an emergency.
“The situation surrounding this novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, continues to evolve rapidly,” said Dr. Doohan. “This declaration will allow us as a County to deploy additional state and federal resources, and I am confident that this will help us be as prepared as possible to respond to COVID-19 activity.”
Mendocino County has worked daily with local, state and national officials since early January to monitor and respond to COVID-19. Mendocino County Public Health is working in close coordination with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as health care providers throughout the Mendocino County.
More information will be shared tomorrow through Mendocino County’s Press Conference on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This information will be live streamed through the County’s website. Sheriff Matt Kendall and County Health Officer Noemi Doohan will be presenting, in addition to other local dignitaries.
This Press Conference forum is designed for media personnel, but the public is welcome to watch from the County’s YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/MendocinoCountyVideo) or Facebook page
(www.facebook.com/mendocinocounty/). For your benefit and the benefit of our community, we ask that you not attend work, school or community events in person if you have symptoms of influenza or other respiratory illness (i.e. cough, fever).
Please visit www.mendocinocounty.org for the latest local news on COVID-19. For general health related questions or other concerns regarding COVID-19, please call Mendocino County’s Call Center at (707) 234-6052 or email [email protected]. The call center will be open during regular business hours, Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Here’s the consumer alert regarding price gouging from California Attorney General Xavier Bercerra:
Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following Statewide Declaration of Emergency for Novel Coronavirus Cases in California Communities
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued a price gouging alert following recent statewide public health emergency declaration responding to novel coronavirus in California. Attorney General Becerra reminds all Californians that, under Penal Code Section 396, price gouging is illegal in all California communities during the declared state of emergency.
“Communities throughout our state are working to prevent and treat this public health threat,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Californians shouldn’t have to worry about being cheated while dealing with the effects of coronavirus. Our state’s price gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on medical supplies, food, gas, and other essential supplies. I encourage anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, to immediately file a complaint through my office’s website, call (800) 952-5225, or contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.”
California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations, and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business.
Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution. The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the statute.