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Placerville writing letter to Gov. Newsom urging flexibility in reopening state

City leaders believe it has met 5 of 6 benchmarks to reopen and is pushing for flexibility to reopen. "We should not have the same penalties as other communities."

PLACERVILLE, Calif — Some local government leaders are urging Governor Gavin Newsom to take a nuanced approach in reopening the state, one that considers how rural areas and urban cities are dealing with the pandemic differently.

The Placerville City Council is among several small California county and city leaders who say they aren't impacted by coronavirus the same way big cities are.

Placerville Vice Mayor Dennis Thomas, who recently recovered from coronavirus, said because their city, like many other rural areas, has not be as heavily impacted by the virus, it shouldn't have to suffer from the one-size-fits-all style response.

"We have very low infection rate in this community," Thomas said. "We're doing it right, and we should not have the same penalties as other communities."

As of April 20, the city has only had five positive tests, El Dorado County has 38 total confirmed cases and zero deaths.

RELATED: Maps: Coronavirus cases across the Sacramento region

Thomas said the council's unanimous decision last week to pen a letter to the governor isn't fueled by emotion, but a measured approach to put the city's interests on record. 

"I think we should not expect to go along with the rest of the state, we should expect, not to have special privileges, but appropriate privileges for our community," he said. 

In a phone interview, Dennis said the council believes Placerville has met five out of the six parameters the governor laid out in reopening the state. The one missing benchmark is procuring adequate testing, he said.

What the council is looking for now is guidance and some sort of autonomy.   

Placerville Mayor Michael Saragosa told ABC10 in an email Monday that they are not looking to immediately reopen the city, but instead receive guidance to open sooner based on their level of impact.

"Placerville and similar cities/counties with less density should be able to make informed decisions on slowly reopening certain aspects of their economy that may pose more of a challenge in urban and/or high density areas," Saragosa said. "Localized flexibility is important as we move forward towards some type of 'reopening' that is informed by our healthcare partners and the County public health officer."

RELATED: California's 6 key factors in coronavirus response before reopening the state

City leaders said the letter outlining their arguments for reopening at the local level with appropriate restrictions is still being finalized.

During the governor's daily press briefing on Monday, he said he has stacks of letters from local municipalities with similar pleas. Newsom added that the state is considering local input, and vice versa.

The governor said each Wednesday, the state will give updates on those six re-opening categories, and that his office will continue conversations with local public health departments.

"We recognize 58 counties, 480 cities, different parts of this state impacted differently, but also the fact that we are one state and the impact and the collective responsibility we have to one another, neighboring counties, neighboring cities, also must be considered," Newsom said. "All of that is exactly why last week we put out those terms, those six areas of categories where we are advancing those conversations at the local level, incorporating their thoughts and advice at the state level."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Van Tieu.

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