SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – A new report from the San Joaquin County Grand Jury criticizes the way the county reacted to the coronavirus crisis, citing a lack of leadership and training and says many county workers still don’t know who is really in charge of the county’s covid response.
The report says the government, political and health leaders failed to work together to meet the needs of the public, as the pandemic was growing.
“Leadership needed to model the need to take the pandemic seriously,” said Pastor Nelson Rabell.
Rabell said he wasn’t surprised by the findings, having worked with the county doing community outreach throughout the pandemic.
“The medical staff of the county, they’ve been great, but I think the leadership had to remove the pandemic from the politics and not try to make this connected to national politics,” Rabell said.
The grand jury conducted 20 interviews before releasing a 15-page report saying the county’s emergency operations plan didn’t work as effectively or efficiently as it should have.
“We took a look at both factors how the county’s response was impacting the rise in the number of COVID infections and hospitalizations and deaths,” said San Joaquin County Grand Jury foreman Gary Cooper.
Cooper says a lack of leadership, policies and communication between San Joaquin County Public Health Services and the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services delayed their COVID-19 response.
“Having two entities respond to them separately, may have hampered the best positive outcome we could have had,” Cooper explained.
In a statement to FOX40, the San Joaquin County OES said, “We take this investigation seriously and endeavor to provide the best service to the community and our partners at all times.”
The report also outlines ways the county can improve, including real-time “tabletop” drills to mimic a crisis.
Cooper says the goal of the report is to be better prepared and keep the community safe.
“We all hope that we never have to face another pandemic to the severity of COVID-19. But in the event that we do, preparation will go a long, long way,” Cooper told FOX40.
The county has 90 days to respond and decide whether they will or won’t implement the grand jury’s suggestions.