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Letter: Sheriff Asks Governor to Allow Madera County to Reopen

MADERA — At their regular board meeting this week, Madera County supervisors authorized Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney to send a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom requesting more leeway be given to individual counties like Madera in terms of how quickly businesses are allowed to reopen.

The sheriff, in his letter, reportedly argues that more rural counties, including Madera, should be able to dictate the pace of reopening based on local health conditions and other circumstances.

Madera County has seen just two deaths from COVID-19 and less than 60 active cases so far as county officials have been very aggressive — and successful — in carrying out contact tracing, testing and monitoring activities.

Sheriff Varney with some of the members of the County’s “contact tracing” task force on March 21 (pre-social distancing)

Sheriff Varney’s letter, posted on the County’s website, was reportedly updated before being sent Tuesday morning after a closed session meeting with supervisors.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, the sheriff said: “We appreciate the governor trying to reopen things” but it’s not going fast enough in places like Madera County.

Board Chairman David Rogers said Tuesday that “there is unity regionally about this issue” of reopening more quickly. “The governor needs to give counties [like Madera] more options,” he added. 

Supervisor Brett Frazier also called the sheriff’s letter “well-crafted” and appropriate given current local conditions. “Everyone’s hyper sensitive about this right now” in the business community, he added.

District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler agreed.

“We’re all anxious to get things going again,” Wheeler said.

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