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Sacramento County Supervisors respond to grand jury findings saying they 'disagree wholly'

At their June 7 meeting, the Board of Supervisors announced they wholly disagree with four of the grand jury's findings and partially agree with two.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Update: June 9, 12:55 p.m.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has addressed the Sacramento County Grand Jury's concerns about their response to the COVID-19 pandemic saying it "disagreed wholly" with their findings.

At the June 7 Board of Supervisors meeting, the county approved a response to the grand jury report released on April 4, 2022.

In the report released in April, the grand jury found the Board of Supervisors had "scant interaction" with the county's Office of Public Health (OPH) until approximately five months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly two months after the grand jury report was released, Sacramento supervisors announced they wholly disagree with four of the grand jury's findings and partially agree with two.

A full report of the Board of Supervisors' responses to the grand jury can be found HERE.

Update: June 7, 4:24 p.m.

The Sacramento County Grand Jury, tasked by the California Superior Court with independent investigations into legislative bodies, said on Tuesday the county Board of Supervisors have yet to address concerns about the supervisor's public health response early in the pandemic.

In February, the grand jury released its original report finding the Board of Supervisors interacted little with the Office of Public Health for nearly the first five months of the pandemic.

"The Board of Supervisors’ position that there is ‘nothing to see here’ reflects the precise leadership and accountability deficiencies outlined in the Report. Sacramento County needs and deserves engaged, accountable leadership from Supervisors," officials said in a news release Tuesday.

Original story:

A report issued Monday from the Sacramento County Grand Jury found the Board of Supervisors had "scant interaction" with the county's Office of Public Health (OPH) until nearly five months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grand jury investigation found that, "in March 2020 the OPH responded to the worst public health emergency in a century with speed and effectiveness, but did so without needed support or oversight from its direct line of authority, the County Board of Supervisors."

The grand jury report said that this "level of executive disinterest" continued until August 2020 when public health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye made a plea for funding.

"This leadership and management deficit delayed needed OPH program funding which should have been immediately provided to OPH as one of the Board's first priorities," the grand jury report said.

The grand jury's investigation found that, when the pandemic began in Sacramento, the OPH responded immediately and administrated its newly expanded responsibilities despite being understaffed and underfunded.

The newly expanded responsibilities OPH took on included countywide COVID-19 outreach, implementation of the COVID-19 Dashboard, contract tracing, analyzing COVID-19 surveillance data and opening and running COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites.

The grand jury report said the level of service and commitment shown by OPH staff and volunteers made a difference in Sacramento's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Grand Jury is dumbfounded that the County Board of Supervisors seemed completely disconnected from the Office of Public Health in the midst of the crisis our community faced,” a statement from Grand Jury Foreperson Deanna Hanson said. “It is simply irresponsible to think that Sacramento will never face another situation that needs immediate attention.”  

The grand jury's investigation also said there was "a lack of commitment to the enforcement of countywide COVID-19 public health orders" by both law enforcement and the Board of Supervisors.

On June 19, 2020, the county Department of Public Health issued a mask order in line with Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order that had been made the previous day.

However on the same day the county issued this order, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones issued a press release saying the sheriff's office would not be criminally enforcing the governor's mandate.

"On December 8, 2020, even when directly requested by the Public Health Officer, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors failed to take action on a proposed ordinance that specified civil penalties for the failure to comply with public health orders," the grand jury report said. "This was clear evidence of the Board’s overall lack of support for the COVID-19 pandemic response activities of OPH."

Monday's grand jury report recommended that the county executive, board of supervisors and OPH develop a public health emergency response plan.

"This would recognize and meet the immediate requirements of OPH to implement future public health orders to best ensure the safety of Sacramento County residents," the grand jury report said. 

Read more from ABC10: 

Watch more from ABC10: Grand Jury calls for audit of Sacramento County's use of $181 million in CARES Act funds

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