HOLLISTER, Calif. (KION)
Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velasquez says San Benito County officials will be coming together this week to discuss possible new approaches and solutions to address the rise in COVID-19 cases in the county.
As of January 9th, reports show there are 688 active COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths in San Benito County.
With local ICU capacity full, Mayor Velasquez and new San Benito County Board Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki say their goal is to expand on COVID-19 education outreach, enforcement and economic relief for businesses impacted by the ongoing pandemic.
Mayor Ignacio Velasquez says seven new deaths were reported this week, an average of one per day.
With the new year and the ever growing fear of the virus, Mayor Velasquez says part of County Board meeting this upcoming week will involve discussing access to more vaccines.
“The numbers are still low and we want to work with the county, they’re in charge of that program, to get as many vaccinations out as possible as quickly as possible," says Mayor Velasquez.
Mayor Velasquez says enforcement for non-compliant businesses and large gatherings has been a challenge, particularly over the recent holidays.
Supervisor Kosmicki says enforcement for health and safety guideline violations could start coming from an administrative level.
“We don’t have a lot of resources when it comes to law enforcement, we really have to address this from a code enforcement angle and I would like to look at addressing it from an environmental health angle and having our staff handle more of the enforcement citations," says Kosmicki.
Kosmicki says another discussion will be to establish a county-wide mandated face mask ordinance as well as monitoring and possibly establishing fines for any big chain stores found to be in violation of the required health guidelines.
Kosmicki adds the goal is to send a message to the community about following health guidelines by expanding COVID-19 education, whether through billboards, digital advertising and even direct mailers to inform people what they should do to stay safe.
Meanwhile, Mayor Velasquez says one of his biggest concerns is that many local hospital patients are being sent to different locations due to low capacity and increased case numbers.
“We’re a small community and we’re all seeing many more case numbers that are developing, by working with the county with he new board, we’re excited to do something county wide that will help bring these numbers down," says Mayor Velasquez.
The San Benito County Board of Supervisors are to meet on Tuesday, January 12th.
As far as enforcement and citations from local law enforcement, San Benito County Spokesperson David Westrick says the approach has been education first, but adds the county will wait to see what is discussed on Tuesday's meeting to determine if any possible changes will be made.