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Whittier officials push for quicker reopening

WHITTIER — The city of Whittier will write a letter to county and state legislators expressing its frustration with stay-at-home orders, which are devastating local small businesses even as Whittier’s coronavirus numbers appear to be flattening.

Whittier officials said the spread of COVID-19 has been contained locally, and restaurants and businesses here should be allowed to reopen, similar to neighboring Orange County.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors considered a plan Tuesday that would have allowed cities with lower coronavirus cases to reopen faster than other parts of the county. That plan, however, failed to pass despite support from supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger. 

“Orange County opening up right next door in La Habra doesn’t mean that people from Whittier aren’t going to go to La Habra and have dinner,” Councilman Fernando Dutra said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “It doesn’t mean that coronavirus isn’t going to stop at the border between Whittier and La Habra.

“[The] residents of Whittier have demonstrated they have been responsible members of society and they’re doing a great job relative to the numbers. Our numbers have flattened out, they’re better than most cities our size.”

“We’re allowing our businesses to drown when they don’t need to be,” Dutra added. “What happens is days turns into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into more months.”

Mayor Joe Vinatieri echoed Dutra’s comments and said a letter to Gov. Newsom, along with the local Assemblymember and state senator, is important to plead Whittier’s case.

“Let’s push it hard forward because we got people here who are out of jobs and now it’s becoming a mental stress issue, maybe even much more than the actual Covid physical thing that’s hurting us,” Vinatieri said.

Council members voted 5-0 to have city staff write and send the letter, accompanied by statistics provided by PIH Health.

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