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Independent review of county’s handling of pandemic is put on hold again – Palo Alto Daily Post

Independent review of county’s handling of pandemic is put on hold again – Palo Alto Daily Post
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Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer, speaks at a news conference on Jan. 31. AP photo.

BY BRADEN CARTWRIGHT
Daily Post Staff Writer

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Santa Clara County has delayed the release of a report on the Covid pandemic and ensuing public health orders, which forced hundreds of businesses to close, kept every kid home from school and killed 3,039 people, according to the California Department of Public Health.

County officials initially said the report would take six months, but it’s been 16 months since the Board of Supervisors hired CNA Corporation for $242,610 in October 2022.

Deadlines provided by the county have been missed three times — first in April 2023, then in the summer and the fall.

“For a project of this magnitude and importance, the county is particularly focused on being thorough,” the county said on Dec. 11. “The report is still undergoing internal review and is expected to go to the Board of Supervisors in early 2024.”

When CNA was hired, Supervisors Joe Simitian and Cindy Chavez said they were interested in looking at who makes decisions during an extended emergency like the pandemic. By state law, decision-making was passed from supervisors to Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officer, after Cody declared a public health emergency.

Chavez said that may be suitable for a month-long emergency, but Cody was less accountable to the public than supervisors because she wasn’t elected. The emergency declaration lasted until January of last year.

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Simitian said good governance is key during an emergency, because the public’s willingness to cooperate and support the county’s action depends on trust.

“Decisions were made based on medical expertise and public health expertise, rather than based on ‘political’ considerations, as some might describe,” he said. “That is a challenging tension to navigate.”

CNA Corporation specializes in assessing government responses to disasters.

CNA employees said they would talk to business owners, elected officials, hospital leaders, school superintendents and public health workers.

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Residents were also surveyed online.



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