By Marlee Ginter

RANCHO MURIETA (CBS13) – Intensive care unit capacity numbers continued looking grim Thursday with several regions reporting below the threshold to reopen, but this comes as Sacramento County leaders plan a three-day policy conference to discuss reopening sooner.

That’s welcome news to Chason’s Crab Stadium, which struggles to keep customers visiting with business plummeting 50-60% percent during the pandemic.

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“We cannot survive. You know, we had to lay off a lot of workers. They have family too,” owner Peter Phong said.

That’s why Sacramento County leaders are hosting Re-Open Cal Now in Rancho Murieta with medical experts and economists.

“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to research, to understand COVID and the lockdown and advocate for those we represent,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost.

Frost says the conference got the green light from county environmental management and ABC after reviewing safety protocols. But the in-person event is drawing criticism as county health officials say it’s in violation of state and local health orders.

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Sacramento County Public Health Officer Olivia Kasirye sent CBS13 this statement:

“This three-day, in-person conference, scheduled to take place in Sacramento County, is in violation of state and local health orders and has the potential to become a super-spreader event. This is exceedingly troubling as we are experiencing an unprecedented number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Not only does this put the event attendees at risk, it puts the conference venue employees at risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to their families.”

The event is scheduled in a 44,000-square-foot outdoor arena with masks being provided and sanitizing protocols in place.

“We are more than observing the COVID policies for social distancing,” Frost said.

Local business owners like Phong said they are only hopeful the event leads to reopening sooner rather than later.

“For important meetings, meeting in-person is always good as long as you follow the health guidelines. Maybe wear a mask too, that’s OK,” he said.

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