Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic reached Stockton, the city’s council voted unanimously this week to join the state in ending its local emergency proclamation.
The order will officially conclude at the end of February.
The motion took less than three minutes to explain and pass, a showing of how the situation surrounding COVID-19 has drastically changed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Stockton City Manager Harry Black noted the poignancy of the moment after Mayor Kevin Lincoln read the agenda item.
“That’s a really profound statement if we go back three years ago, in where we were and where we’ve come,” Black said.
Black, just weeks into his new job, had proclaimed a local emergency March 12, 2020, in response to the rapid spread of what was then-coined the “novel coronavirus.” The City Council ratified his proclamation a week later during a special meeting, just two days after the first confirmed cases of the virus in the county were reported and one day before the first two deaths.
California Governor Gavin Newsom initiated a statewide stay-at-home order that same week that saw businesses and schools shut down. He also issued a statewide mask mandate a few months later to help slow the virus’s spread.
There were no vaccines or medication-based treatments for COVID-19 at the time, the full spectrum of the virus’s symptoms were unknown, a 14-day quarantine was recommended after exposure and hospital intensive care units would soon be dangerously full.
However, following the nationwide roll out of vaccines last year, the region, state and entire country has since moved back to a sense of normalcy, with very few coronavirus-related mandates still in place.
As of Friday, San Joaquin County Public Health Services shows that there have been nearly 202,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county and more than 2,300 related deaths. About 70% of county residents have been vaccinated.
The Council’s motion to end the emergency proclamation will coincide with Newsom’s October announcement that the state would officially rescind its own order Feb. 28, 2023.
“So I am recommending that we follow suit to be in alignment and consistent with the date,” Black said Tuesday.
Councilmembers also agreed that temporary pandemic-related commercial and residential eviction moratoriums currently on the city’s books should be revisited at next week’s City Council meeting despite staff clarifying at Tuesday’s meeting that sunset dates are already set for early next year.
Moratoriums on evictions were issued to keep business and residents monetarily affected by the pandemic and, thus, could not pay their rents housed.
“We’ve heard a lot from the public, from people who’ve lost out on investment properties or their ability to recapture lost rents,” Councilmember Sol Jobrack said. “I would like to see that on next week’s agenda.”