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COVID-19 UPDATES FOR VENTURA COUNTY

Friday October 16, 2020

LINKS TO OFFICIAL INFORMATION

For Ventura County: https://www.vcemergency.com/ 

For Santa Barbara County: https://publichealthsbc.org/status-reports/ 

California: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx# 

The CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html 

 

Resources

 

COVID-19 Update for Ventura County, Friday, October 16, 2020

     56 new cases of coronavirus in Ventura County Friday for a total since March of 13,597. 

     12,938 are people who have recovered. 

     There are currently 499 active cases under quarantine Friday with 29 Ventura County residents with the virus in hospitals, 10 of them in Intensive Care. 

     The death toll increased by one for a total of 160.

     The latest death was a 96-year-old woman with comorbidities.

     This is the last update for this week.  The next one will be Monday.

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     The State of California has issued guidance for Halloween and Día de Los Muertos. View the guidance by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

     The County of Ventura is now classified in the Red Tier in the State's COVID-19 reopening system. For more information on what can and cannot be open in the Red Tier, visit www.vcreopens.org or https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/ 

 

COVID-19 Testing Available - No cost. No appointment needed.

Update--The County of Ventura’s drive through COVID-19 testing site in Santa Paula, located at 128 S. Hallock Drive, will be closed on Friday, October 9, 2020. The site will be relocated to the Santa Paula Oil Museum located at 1001 E. Main Street in Santa Paula beginning October 16, 2020. The operating hours will be Friday through Tuesday from 10 am to 7 pm.  

 
Week Day Drive Through Sites Monday through Friday 10 am to 7 pm
Moopark College, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark
Oxnard College, 4000 S. Rose Ave., Oxnard. The site is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
 
Walk-In Monday Through Friday 9 am to 6 pm
Ventura County Fairgrounds,10 W. Harbor Blvd in Ventura, Enter Gate 2.

The Ventura College testing site has been shut down.


 

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Board of Supervisors approves $10 Million COVID-19 Hospitals Assistance Program

Assistance will support local not-for-profit hospitals

 

Ventura, CA – The County of Ventura Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a COVID-19 Hospitals Assistance Program for local not-for-profit hospitals, in the amount of $10 million to be funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, to provide financial support to local hospitals for COVID-19 costs.

 

“During this extraordinary event, local hospitals have experienced economic hardships and unreimbursed costs due to surge preparation, the assistance for COVID patients and loss of business from decreases in elective surgeries and emergency room visits,” said County Executive Officer, Mike Powers. “The hospitals have also partnered in our effort to care for COVID positive non-acute Long-Term Care Facility residents. These efforts have helped our entire community slow the spread of COVID-19. They have saved lives and worked tirelessly to serve the community. We hope that this assistance will provide relief for their dedicated service.”

 

In order to mitigate the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Board of Supervisors has approved programs for businesses, renters, seniors and homeless persons by utilizing a portion of the $147 million in funding the County received from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund under the CARES Act. The not-for-profit hospital industry is another sector that is in need of financial support. These hospitals have been vital partners with the County in addressing the pandemic by providing beds and health care for COVID-19 patients.

 

“I have seen firsthand how State and County governments have worked in harmony with health care providers throughout the State. We have together successfully curtailed the spread of COVID more than other State’s our size. We have also witnessed unprecedented cooperation,” said Gary Wilde, President and CEO of Community Memorial Health System and Chair of the California Hospital Association. “Locally, the coordination has been incredible. The assistance program will certainly help our local hospitals.”

 

The funding will be distributed to Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, St. John’s Regional Medical Center, St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital and Adventist Health Simi Valley.

 

“This has been a truly remarkable event in how we have worked together in partnership to support one another. We appreciate the coordinated efforts and ongoing support,” said Darren Lee, President & CEO, St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital, Dignity Health.

 

For more information about COVID-19 response efforts please visit www.venturacountyrecovers.org.

 

 

 

COVID-19 NEWS RELEASES

County of Ventura moves to the State’s Red Tier
Allows more businesses to open indoors with modifications
County also exceeding State’s new Health Equity Metric
Ventura, CA – Thanks to recent progress being made in the fight against COVID-19 in Ventura County, businesses such as restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, massage businesses and places of worship may now open indoors, following California Department of Public Health sector specific guidance for reopening, as of 12:01 pm today. The changes come after the County qualified to move into the less restrictive red tier of the State's four-tiered, color-coded reopening system. Until today, Ventura County had been in the state's purple tier, the most restrictive tier.
“This is great news for our County and our business community. We will continue to advocate for our local businesses and appreciate this opportunity to move forward,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer.
In order to move into the red tier, the County had to see average case rates drop below 7 per 100,000 people and testing positivity rates dip below 8%. For the past two weeks, Ventura County has met those benchmarks. As of Tuesday, the case rate is 5.5 per 100,000 people and the test positivity rate is 3.0%.
 
A new Ventura County Health Officer Order has been issued to align with the tier advancement.
Moving into the red tier means the following sectors can reopen with modifications:
• Places of worship, restaurants, movie theaters and museums can be operated indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.
• Gyms can reopen indoors at 10% capacity. 12 feet distancing required in Ventura County.
• All personal care services such as massage, tattoos and piercing salons can open indoors.
• Indoor shopping malls can operate at 50% maximum occupancy (instead of 25%). Food courts can also open following the state's guidelines for restaurants.
• Indoor retail stores can now operate at 50% capacity (instead of 25%)
"The credit belongs to our residents, who have made lots of sacrifices and worked hard to improve our community transmission metrics,” said Rigoberto Vargas, Public Health Director. “That same hard work must continue moving forward so that we don’t revert back to the purple tier and instead continue making progress towards the next tier, orange, so that additional businesses can reopen.”
Elementary and secondary schools can reopen for in-person instruction by October 21 if the county remains the red tier for two more weeks. Currently, elementary schools can apply for a waiver from Public Health to reopen.
“COVID-19 is still circulating in our County. It’s important that community members continue to take all the same precautions so that we can continue to move forward: wear face coverings in public, maintain physical distancing, wash hands frequently and stay home if you're sick,” said Doctor Robert Levin, Public Health Officer.
Community members who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person, who have symptoms or who have contact with others outside of their household for their work are encouraged to get tested. County testing sites are available 7 days a week at no cost with no appointment needed.  Short wait times and results within 24 hours are the standard right now.
Businesses and other organizations should review their applicable industry guidance for reopening safely from the state. Businesses must also be registered to reopen at www.vcreopens.com. If a business previously registered, they do not need to register again.
The California Department of Public Health has also issued a new Health Equity Metric that goes into effect today. The goal of the metric is to prevent spread among disproportionately impacted Californians. The County of Ventura has been committed to equitable response and serving and protecting the most vulnerable since the beginning of the pandemic. These efforts have included free testing, expanded testing hours and locations, contact tracing, multi-lingual outreach, assistance programs for food, rent and household bills, waived clinic fees, hotel vouchers, permanent housing and more.
“Unlike several other counties, the case rate and testing positivity rates in our most impacted areas do not stand to hold us back from moving tiers. In fact, our positivity rate has improved significantly enough in these areas that we might be eligible for an “accelerator adjustment”, whereby we can move tiers based on that metric alone, even if our overall case rate was to keep us in a lower tier,” said Rigoberto Vargas, Pubic Health Director.
The Health Equity Metric requires that the lowest Healthy Places Index (HPI) quartile be below 8%. To enter the state’s less restrictive Orange Tier, it needs to stay under 5%. The County is currently at 3.6% positivity rate for the lower HPI quartile compared to 3.0% for the County as a whole. The County will continue to support health equity with expanded outreach and support throughout the County.

 

Schools Will Consider Reopening Dates as
Ventura County Coronavirus Status Improves

Today, Ventura County moved off the most restrictive tier of the state’s COVID-19 watch list, which means schools could soon have the option of reopening for in-person instruction at all grade levels. If Ventura County maintains its status for two additional weeks, schools may choose to reopen as early as Wednesday, October 21. However, it will be up to each individual school district to determine exactly when they can safely begin welcoming students back to class. Some schools may choose to reopen their campuses later than October 21 for a variety of reasons.

When they do reopen, schools will need to maintain strict social distancing, keeping students and staff at least six feet away from each other. This means classrooms can only be filled to a fraction of their normal capacity. Schools are also required to keep the same groups of students together to the greatest extent possible to limit the number of people each student is exposed to throughout the day.

In elementary grades, many schools will comply with these rules by bringing only a portion of students to class each day. On the days they are not in class, students will continue receiving instruction through distance learning. This hybrid approach will allow all students to have some in-class instruction a few days per week.

The situation becomes much more complicated in middle school and high school where students switch classrooms and mix with different groups multiple times a day according to each student’s unique schedule. Because of this and the fact that classrooms cannot be filled to capacity, it will be extremely difficult to create a workable in-person schedule at the middle and high school levels. As a result, some schools may determine that the best option is to continue with full-time distance learning.

In addition to scheduling and safety considerations, school districts need to ensure there are enough teachers available to resume in-person instruction. Many teachers are in high risk groups, which could prevent them from returning to class. Others may have reservations about being in a crowded school environment while the pandemic is ongoing.

Another issue that complicates reopening is transportation. Because of social distancing requirements, school buses will not be able to carry the usual number of students. It’s very likely there will not be a sufficient supply of buses and drivers to provide transportation to all students who may need it.

“We recognize that people have passionate feelings on both sides of the school reopening issue, and we want nothing more than to get students safely back to class,” said Stan Mantooth, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. “I urge everyone to understand that school district leaders are working to reopen in the most responsible way, which may mean spending additional time on distance learning at some schools.”

All Ventura County schools have prepared detailed reopening procedures that will help ensure the safety of students and staff when they return to campus. They include:

•     Face coverings will be required for all staff and for students in third grade and above.

•     Classrooms will be arranged to keep everyone at least six feet apart.

•     Students will be kept in consistent groups (cohorts) as much as possible.

•     Parents will be instructed to keep students home whenever they have a temperature or show symptoms.

•     Anyone experiencing symptoms at school will be sent home.

•     Facilities and equipment will be disinfected on a regular basis.

•     School officials will work with Ventura County Public Health on contact tracing if positive cases arise.

•     Athletic training and conditioning are allowed with social distancing, but actual competitions are on hold pending further guidance from public health officials.

•     Staff will receive COVID-19 testing as required by state and local regulations.

•     Staff and students will receive health screenings on a regular basis.

Each school district is communicating independently with parents and students about their reopening timelines. For additional information about reopening protocols, see the Framework for Reopening Ventura County Schools at www.vcoe.org/framework.

 

Updates for local businesses:
  • There is no longer a time limit for facilities serving meals. It was limited to 90 minutes but effective immediately there is no time limit. Seating must be kept to the same household and 11:00 pm closure is still required.
  • Garage Sales and Swap Meets are now allowed following state guidance.
  • Ratio for day camp is now 14 to 1.
If the County continues to meet the State metrics the State will allow the County to move into the Red Tier on October 6. Read more about areas that will reopen by clicking here.
Once personal services are permitted in the Red Tier:
  • There will be no time limit for personal services, confined space is permitted, the customer will not need to wear a mask when the service provider is wearing both a mask and face shield (for eye protection) when providing services on the face (per State Guidelines).
Additionally:
  • Gyms will be permitted to reopen at 10% capacity indoors with 12ft social distancing and masks.
Health Equity Metric
The State of California announced a new Health Equity Metric that goes into effect on October 6. The good news is that the County of Ventura is already meeting the equity metric for the orange tier. So the County is still in a good position to move forward into the Red Tier this week. It's more important than ever that we continue to work together to bring the numbers down. 

County of Ventura meeting State reopening metrics

Poised to enter Red Tier in one week

 

VENTURA, CA. – Today, the State of California announced that the County of Ventura has met the State COVID-19 metrics for one week. If the County meets the metrics for an additional week the State will allow the County to move into the Red Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. “I am excited Ventura County has been cleared to go to this next phase,” said Supervisor Kelly Long, Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  “Ventura County has consistently exceeded the standards in five of the six initial metrics set by the state. Clearing this last hurdle is a testament to the public’s patience and adherence to safety protocols.  I look forward to more latitude and flexibility for our local businesses and social activities that will help our local economy and improve our quality of life.”

 

As of September 29, the County has met the threshold for the case rate for the Red Tier. Any county within this tier must indicate a daily case rate of between 4-7 cases and a positivity rate of between 5-8%. Ventura County currently has a daily case rate of 7.0. The County’s testing volume of 283 exceeds the State average of 248.9.  This has allowed for an adjustment by the State of the case rate from 8 to 7. Exceeding the requirements for testing has helped the County advance.

 

“This is a huge step forward for our County,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. “This advancement shows the commitment of our business community and community members to bring the numbers down. We understand the hardship faced by so many and appreciate that this next tier will offer the reopening of many areas. The economic toll of this virus continues to adversely impact the business community. We will continue to work for further progress.”

 

The County anticipates that establishment in the Red Tier would become effective starting Tuesday, October 6, 2020. “Businesses are encouraged to prepare now for reopening,” added Powers. The County has been actively working with the State to advocate moving forward into this less restrictive tier.

 

“This is a critical time at which we must continue to work together to further slow the spread of COVID-19. All residents are urged to follow all guidance so we can continue to improve our metrics and move through the tiers. Wearing masks, social distancing and only gathering with members of one’s household are important measures to keep us on the right path,” said Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas.

 

Once in the Red Tier, personal care services, restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, along with museums, zoos and aquariums will be able to open for indoor operations with modifications. Stores with indoor operations that are open in the Purple Tier can increase indoor capacity to 50% in the Red Tier. Restaurants can open indoors at 25% capacity. Places of worship, higher education, and zoos and museums can open indoor operations at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. Fitness centers and gyms will be able to offer indoor operations at 10% capacity.

 

School openings for in-person instruction are only able to be considered once a county has been in the Red Tier for 14 consecutive days. At this time, only schools that have applied for school waivers and have been approved are allowed to be open for in-person instruction. If the County continues to meet the threshold for case rate and other metrics, K-12 schools across the County could reopen as early as Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

 

Additionally, as of September 28, the State has allowed for outdoor playgrounds operated by a city, state, county, or federal government to open. The County of Ventura is in line with the guidance that has been provided by the State. Information about the guidelines can be accessed by visiting the State website at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Outdoor%20Playgrounds%20and%20other%20Outdoor%20Recreational%20Facilities.aspx

 

Nail Salons: Can be open for indoor service following the expanded personal care services guidance.

Camping: Campgrounds can be open at 100% capacity following campgrounds, RV parks and recreation guidance.
Alcohol-serving Establishments can now be open until 11:00 pm. View the updated order here. Operations must still be conducted outdoors.
All businesses located within the County must create a worksite-specific Covid Prevention Plan and register to be open at www.VCReopens.com. If a business registered previously they do not need to register again.
View the FAQ page by clicking here. 
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Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin issued a new health order regarding restaurants, bars, wineries, brewpubs, and other similar establishments that up to now have been allowed to have outdoor service with restrictions and qualifications.  Currently, those establishments have been allowed to stay open until 10 PM.  The new order allows them to stay open an hour later to 11 PM.  All other previous restrictions still apply.  And again, this is for outdoor operations.  Indoor operations are still not allowed.

 

VCCCD Announces Spring Semester Will Be Remote

District practices utmost precaution to keep its approximately 31,000 students safe

 

(CAMARILLO, Calif.) September 22, 2020 – Ventura County Community College District announces that due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, a majority of its classes at Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges will continue to be remote for the spring 2021 semester, which begins Jan. 11. Strict protocols will still be in place for students and faculty who must be on campus for courses that cannot be remote.

 

In making the decision, VCCCD leadership carefully explored the issue and prioritized the health and safety of its approximately 31,000 students and 1,700 employees during the pandemic. The District will continue to monitor pandemic conditions and state and local Department of Public Health guidelines and restrictions and make adjustments to work status and access to the colleges as appropriate. 

 

“We are alerting students, employees and the community of our actions now to enable everyone to plan for the future,” said Chancellor Greg Gillespie. “Our faculty at all the colleges has worked hard to adapt the curriculum for online learning so that students have an excellent learning experience.”

 

Continuing student registration appointment times for the spring 2021 semester will be listed on students’ MyVCCCD email portal beginning Sept. 28, 2020. New student registration begins Nov. 16. Students may register for classes at more than one VCCCD college.

 

“We appreciate the ongoing support of the community as we continue to take steps to protect the safety and health of our students and employees while providing educational instruction and student support,” said Board Chair Bernardo M. Perez. “We are committed to helping our students fulfill their educational and career goals.”

 

 

Health Officer Order Issued for All Individuals Entering or Residing in Homeless Shelters and H-2A Housing

Ventura, CA – The County Health Officer, Doctor Robert Levin, has issued a new Health Officer Order requiring temperature screening, self-evaluation and reporting of COVID-19 cases at all homeless shelters and H-2A housing in the County of Ventura. This Order is effective September 18 at 12:00 am.

The new order stipulates the following:

  1. All individuals entering or residing in a homeless shelter or H-2A housing shall be screened for COVID-19 symptoms daily.
  2. If through daily screening an individual or resident has symptoms related to COVID-19 the individual must immediately self-isolate and notify the manager, operator, owner of the facility or employer.
  3. The operator, manager, owner of homeless shelters or the employers providing H-2A housing must immediately notify the Ventura County Public Health Department when there is one case of confirmed COVID-19 in the homeless shelter or H-2A at 805-981-5201.

Public Health strongly recommends that homeless shelters and H-2A housing utilize stable groups to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in these types of housing. The screening listed in this order has already taken place throughout the pandemic response at homeless shelters in the County of Ventura. The shelter partners are screening for symptoms including temperature checks multiple times per day. This includes the publicly and privately funded emergency shelter programs. These screening efforts are also taking place at agricultural facilities and businesses throughout the County.

 

Providing direct outreach to farmworkers has been a top priority throughout the County’s COVID-19 response efforts. A Ventura County Health Education Program called Cultivating Health in Agriculture takes important resources to the farms. The effort includes Ventura County Medical Center Doctors in partnership with Public Health, the Farmworker Resource Program and Logrando Bienestar. The team provides medical and mental health and wellness outreach where physicians visit the farms to answer questions, test and provide prevention information.

 

The Ventura County Health Care Agency has waived fees and costs related to any respiratory or COVID-19 related treatment during the response efforts. The clinics have also provided expanded multi-lingual tele-health efforts to answer questions and provide guidance. Drive through testing sites were launched in Oxnard, Moorpark, Ventura and Santa Paula offering no cost COVID-19 testing for all community members. The testing is offered during later evening hours at all sites and on weekends at the Oxnard site. 

In April, the County, in collaboration with the County Executive Office, the Farmworker Resource Program, Farm Bureau of Ventura County, Ventura County Agricultural Association, many local growers and the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, issued an Advisor for Agricultural Worker Protection to be used during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Advisory provided information for employee hygiene emphasizing hand washing, staying home when sick and social distancing to avoid the spreading of illness during work activities and breaks. The advisory also provided guidance for employers to have soap or disinfectant, potable water and single-use disposable towels available at worksites and throughout facilities. Instruction for routine environmental cleaning in high traffic areas, training and limiting nonessential visits and travel were included in the advisory.

 

The Agricultural Commissioner’s Office also issued 1,000,000 masks to agricultural sites throughout the County. These measures have helped to protect farmworkers. Farmworker cases are 3.8% of the total positive cases. Other vulnerable populations include 65+ years at 9.4%, Healthcare Workers at 5.4%, Long-term care facilities at 4.9%, and Service Industry workers at 2.3%.

 

The Public Health team responds when there is any report of an outbreak to a facility. Testing is provided and contact tracing begins so that those who may have been exposed to a positive case are alerted and provided with guidance for self-quarantine. This immediate response has helped to limit additional spread. Public Health also provides alternative temporary housing at local hotels for those who have been exposed or tested positive to COVID-19.

 

In addition to the Advisory, mask distribution and site visits there has been on-going multilingual educational outreach. This includes resource information with Farmworker paychecks, WhatsApp messaging, videos in multiple languages, social media messaging in partnership with community partners, public service announcements, outreach at local businesses, churches and schools, digital sign board messaging and streaming of press conferences, board meetings, doctor question and answer time and town halls in English and Spanish.

 

In addition to this outreach, early on the County funded expanded evening hours for Food Share pop-up sites allowing for more accessibility to food and a rental assistance program was launched to provide funding for those who cannot afford to pay rent due to COVID-19 impacts. The Farmworker Household Assistance Program is also open for applications for $1,500 for household expenses. 

The County’s Farmworker Resource Program coordinators serve the agricultural community throughout the year. They have been conducting regular outreach throughout the pandemic. The program is staffed by trilingual employees who speak indigenous languages like Mixteco and are knowledgeable about the agricultural industry and serve as outreach resources to farmworkers and their employers.

Stay informed at www.venturacounty.org. Please report Covid Compliance concerns to covidcompliance@ventura.org or by calling 1(844) 826-7367.

View the newsroom for COVID-19 updates at: https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/coronavirus-latest-news-updates/. Updates at  https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/subscribe/.

View the Spanish newsroom at: https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/newsroom-sp/  Spanish updates https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/subscribe-sp/.

 

Governor Newsom Signs Legislation to Protect California’s Workforce Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Bills expand access to workers’ compensation and require employers to notify local officials and employees of COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace

 

Watch today's worker protection bill signing here

 

SACRAMENTO -- Governor Gavin Newsom today signed two bills as part of his worker protection package, SB 1159 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and AB 685 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino). SB 1159 expands access to workers’ compensation and makes it easier for first responders, health care workers and people who test positive due to an outbreak at work to get the support they need, including necessary medical care and wage replacement benefits. AB 685 ensures timely notification to employees and local and state public health officials of COVID-19 cases at workplaces. This notification will help workers take necessary precautions such as seeking testing, getting medical help or complying with quarantine directives.

 

“Protecting workers is critical to slowing the spread of this virus,” said Governor Newsom. “These two laws will help California workers stay safe at work and get the support they need if they are exposed to COVID-19.”  

 

“I thank the Governor, my colleagues in the Legislature, and the many stakeholders who worked with us on SB 1159 to improve the lives of the Californians who are working to keep our state, our economy and our communities operating. These workers help all of us meet the incredible challenges we face today,” said Senator Jerry Hill. “For more than 100 years, California has stood for worker safety. In signing SB 1159, Governor Newsom underscores and reinforces that commitment by ensuring vulnerable workers are not left out in the cold.”

 

“In the age of Covid-19 our essential workers risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones in our fields, hospitals, grocery stores, meatpacking plants, restaurant kitchens and countless other businesses in our state,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “COVID-19 infections and deaths disproportionately affect the Latino, Black, and Asian Pacific Islander communities. Communities that make up the majority of our state’s low-wage workers. By notifying the public and workers of potential exposures as required under AB 685 we allow workers to take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their loved ones while also bolstering the response of public health officials.”

 

SB 1159 (Hill) expands access to workers’ compensation by creating a rebuttable presumption for front line workers -- health care workers, firefighters and peace officers. Creating a presumption removes burdens of access to workers’ compensation for those workers who most likely got infected at work. Additionally, the bill establishes a rebuttable presumption when there is a workplace outbreak over a 14-day timeframe.

 

Under AB 685 (Reyes), employers must report an outbreak to local public health officials. Employers must also report known cases to employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 within one business day. This bill strengthens Cal/OSHA’s enforcement authority by providing clear authority to close a worksite due to a COVID-19 hazard and reducing the timeframe for COVID-19 citations. 

 

Governor Newsom has enacted other components of his worker protection package in recent weeks. Last week, he signed AB 1867, legislation that immediately ensured access to paid sick leave for every California employee, closing gaps in federal and state law. He also advanced significant funding for worker and employer outreach, education and enforcement activities related to COVID-19.

 

This worker protection package builds on the Newsom Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect workers, among them expanded child care, access to testing and building a pipeline of personal protective equipment to help workers stay safe on the job. The Administration has also released robust workplace safety and health guidance that emphasizes masks, distancing, cleaning, hand washing, screenings and staying home if feeling sick.

 

 

 

COVID-19 Related News Releases  

Interim Halloween Guidance

 

As fall approaches families start to plan for the upcoming holiday season beginning with Halloween. Since some of the traditional ways in which this holiday is celebrated does not allow you to minimize contact with non-household members, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives. The Ventura County Department of Public Health would like to share information on how to take part in this holiday in a manner that reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. Since some of the traditional ways in which this holiday is celebrated are not permitted this year, consider some safer alternatives that are listed below.

 

The State of California is also expected to come out with guidance on this topic.

 

Halloween Activities

Not Permitted (gatherings and events are not currently allowed under the State Health Order)

• Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted even if they are conducted outdoors.

• Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions are not allowed.

 

Not Recommended

• Door to door trick or treating is not recommended because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors, ensure that everyone answering or coming to the door is appropriately masked to prevent disease spread, and because sharing food is risky.

• “Trunk or treating” where children go from car to car instead of door to door to receive treats is also not recommended, particularly when part of Halloween events, since it is difficult to avoid crowding and sharing food.

 

Permitted and Recommended

• Online parties/contests (e.g. costume or pumpkin carving)

• Car parades that comply with public health guidance for vehicle-based parades including:

a. Drive by events or contests where individuals dress up or decorate their vehicles and drive by

“judges” that are appropriately physically distanced.

b. Drive through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area

with Halloween displays.

c. Drive in events where individuals can receive a treat bag (limited to commercially packaged

non-perishable treats) or take away item from an organizer while the participants remain in

their vehicle.

• Halloween movie nights at drive in theaters (must comply with the public health drive in movie theater guidance).

• Halloween themed meals at outdoor restaurants (must comply with the restaurant protocol).

• Halloween themed art installations at an outdoor museum (must comply with the public health museum guidance.)

• Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween themed decorations.

 

Personal Protection Measures

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween it is important to keep the following in mind:

1. Correctly wear a cloth face covering to prevent disease spread1 when outside your home and around others that are not part of your household

2. Avoid confined spaces - Actively stay away from indoor spaces that don’t allow for easy distancing of at least 6ft between you and others

3. Avoid close contact – Stay at least 6 feet away (3 or more adult steps) from all other people who are not part of your own household, especially while talking, eating, drinking, and singing.

4. Wash or sanitize your hands often.

5. Clean frequently touched items regularly.

6. If you are sick, or you have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or has

symptoms of COVID-19 stay home, and away from others.

 

Governor Newsom Announces $76 Million in First Round of Homekey Awards

Nearly $76.5 million will be awarded to seven local jurisdictions for 10 projects

 

Projects in Tahoe Basin, Lake Elsinore will bring those communities’ chronic homelessness to functional zero within two years

 

Innovative project in El Centro will build 13 tiny home duplexes to provide two years of permanent housing, supportive services for 26 homeless students who are also former foster youth

 

Initial Homekey projects’ per-room acquisition cost estimates fall below original state estimates

 

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the first round of awards for Homekey, California’s nation-leading $600 million program to purchase and rehabilitate housing – including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties – and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

 

Nearly $76.5 million was awarded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which administers Homekey, for 10 projects in seven California communities totaling 579 units.

 

In meeting the urgency of the homelessness crisis, Homekey prioritizes speed and cost containment. These projects, and future Homekey awardees, must all complete their purchases by December 30th of this year. This first group of projects have estimated per-room acquisition costs that are below original state estimates.

 

“We are realizing our dream of helping local jurisdictions acquire thousands of motel rooms and convert them into housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said Governor Newsom. “Homekey is the first effort of its kind in the nation and is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the most vulnerable people in our state.”

 

The first round of awards includes projects in the following communities:

 

  • The City of Lake Elsinore has been awarded $3,136,000 to acquire, rehab and operate a former hotel to provide 14 interim transitional housing units for up to 28 residents within 90 days. This project will help the city achieve a goal of functional zero for chronic homelessness within the next two years.
  • South Lake Tahoe has been awarded $9,576,000 to acquire four projects totaling 82 units. These projects will help the Tahoe Basin achieve a goal of functional zero for chronic homelessness within the next two years.
  • The City of El Centro has been awarded $3,024,114 to build 13 tiny home duplexes in collaboration with Imperial Valley College and the Imperial Valley College Foundation. The duplexes will house 26 homeless students who identify as former foster youth.
  • Contra Costa County has been awarded $21,576,000 to acquire the 174-unit Pittsburg Motel 6 where Governor Newsom first announced Homekey in June.
  • The City of San Jose has been awarded $14,516,000 to turn a 76-unit property currently operating as a Project Roomkey project into permanent housing.
  • Kern County has been awarded $14,970,935 to acquire four sites totaling 151 units for permanent supportive housing. This project will help address a severe shortage of housing for people with vouchers who are currently unable to find housing.
  • Mendocino County has been awarded $9,669,500 to provide 56 units for interim housing with plans to convert half the units to permanent housing. There is currently no permanent shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness in the county and only 50 year-round emergency shelter beds.  

 

“In 2016, we launched an effort to rehabilitate deteriorating motels to get more of our homeless residents off the street. Now, with Homekey and the Governor's leadership, we're able to move 77 more homeless individuals off the street, into a motel that we're purchasing with the Homekey money,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We're so grateful for the Governor's leadership, to be able to expand our efforts to house more of our San Joseans.”

 

“On any given night, more than 500 of our residents live outdoors in East Contra Costa, but until now we had only 20 shelter beds in that part of the county,” said Contra Costa County Health Director Anna Roth and Contra Costa County Director of Health Housing and Homeless Services Lavonna Martin. “This investment from Homekey will touch hundreds of lives and improve health in Contra Costa County. We're grateful for this award and look forward to working with state and local partners to address critical housing needs in our community.”

 

“This tiny home community will primarily house homeless youth who are pursuing higher education at IVC because they believe that through education, their lives will change,” said Imperial Valley College President Dr. Martha Garcia. “Collectively in Imperial County, we are committed to helping those that have the greatest barriers in life.”

 

Building on the success of Project Roomkey, Governor Newsom in July announced the availability of $600 million in funding for Homekey, the next phase in the state’s response protecting Californians experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, following approval by the Legislature as part of the 2020-21 annual state budget. Of that, $550 million will be provided to cities and counties by California’s direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds, with an additional $50 million provided by the state to supplement the acquisition and provide initial operating funds.

 

Previously, Governor Newsom released the full $650 million in State Emergency Homeless Aid from last year’s budget, and the new state budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in June includes $300 million General Fund to cities, counties and continuums of care to support efforts to reduce homelessness. The state has partnered with local governments to launch 100-day challenges for immediate impact solutions to tackle homelessness. The Governor began the year by signing an executive order as part of a comprehensive state response to homelessness and called on all levels of government to step up their efforts to combat the crisis in his State of the State address.

 

HCD began accepting applications for Homekey on July 22, 2020. Additional awards are expected weekly until all $600 million has been awarded. The response from local governments and housing providers was significant – demonstrating the strength of these state-local partnerships. By the priority application deadline on August 13, a total of 138 applications had been received from 67 jurisdictions statewide, with a total of nearly $1.06 billion requested.

 

Governor Newsom Signs Bills to Support Small Businesses Grappling with Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic, Bolster Economic Recovery

AB 1577 allows small businesses to exclude PPP loans from gross income for state taxes 

 

SB 1447 authorizes $100 million Main Street hiring tax credit program for small businesses

 

SB 115 accelerates $561 million in state bond funding to help jumpstart construction projects 

 

Legislation builds on previous investments and support for California small businesses

 

SACRAMENTO -- Today at Solomon’s Delicatessen, a small business in Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom alongside Senator Anna Caballero signed two bills into law to support small businesses grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and another to jumpstart state construction projects.

 

“Businesses across the state have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and they need support to keep their doors open and their employees on the payroll,” said Governor Newsom. “Today, we are taking action to keep money in the hands of small businesses while expanding job opportunities for those who lost their jobs because of this virus. We have much more work to do together, but I know these bills will make a big difference for small businesses.”

 

California small businesses are drivers of economic growth – creating two-thirds of new jobs and employing nearly half of all private sector employees. California is home to 4.1 million small businesses, representing 99.8 percent of all businesses in the state and employing 7.2 million workers in California, or 48.5 percent of the state’s total workforce.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges to small businesses, employers and employees. Small Business Majority survey data found that up to 44% of businesses are at risk of shutting down. From February to April 2020, there was a 22% drop of active business owners nationwide according to data released through the Census Current Population Survey. Minority-owned businesses are disproportionately impacted: the number of active businesses owned by African-Americans dropped by 41%, Latinx by 32%, Asians by 25%, and immigrants by 36%.

 

“I’d like to thank Governor Newsom for signing my bill, AB 1577," said Assemblymember Autumn Burke. "Small businesses need protection - they are taking the brunt of the economic impact created by COVID-19. The federal Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help businesses stay afloat during this crisis and AB 1577 furthers that goal by preventing surprise tax bills and easing administrative burdens for thousands of California’s small businesses.”

 

“For months, I have been working with my colleagues to champion small business relief and I am very proud SB 1447 has been signed into law,” said Senator Steven Bradford. “This bill will help small businesses that are working hard to persist despite COVID-19 by supporting them as they hire or re-hire employees. Small businesses are critical employers and engines of equitable job growth. This is particularly true for Minority, Women, Disabled Veteran, and LGBT business enterprises. This bill will help bring back jobs that were lost in our communities and support small businesses during this difficult period. I am proud to have worked with my legislative colleagues and the Governor on this effort.”

 

Governor Newsom signed two bills that will help support small businesses as they recover from the COVID-19 induced recession.

 

AB 1577 by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) conforms state law to federal law by excluding from gross income Paycheck Protection Program loans that were forgiven through the federal CARES Act and subsequent amendments in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act of 2020.

 

SB 1447 by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), Senator Anna M. Caballero (D-Salinas) and Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantez (D-Corona) authorizes a $100 million hiring tax credit program for qualified small businesses. The hiring credit will be equal to $1,000 for each net increase in qualified employees, up to $100,000 for each qualified small business employer.

 

SB 115, a budget trailer bill, by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review appropriates $561 million in fiscal year 2020-21. This includes $411.5 million to advance economic stimulus with $230.5 million to help jumpstart construction projects.

 

Opened in 2019, Solomon’s Delicatessen is located at the sixth Tower Records location and named after its late founder, Russ Solomon. They closed in March after stay-at-home orders were announced. In April, they reopened for 10 weeks as a community kitchen through a $75,000 grant from Sacramento Covered and healthcare foundations (Kaiser, Dignity, Sutter) to help feed the homeless and medically fragile. They also participated in California’s Great Plates Delivered program.

 

Small businesses support is critical to ensure Californians are connected to the resources they need to pivot and adapt to the COVID-19 marketplace. The state is using every tool at our disposal to support small businesses as they work to safely reopen and recover from this public health crisis. Learn more here.

 

Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order in Response to COVID-19  

SACRAMENTO -- Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an executive order extending consumer protections against price gouging through March 4, 2021 as California continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The protections generally prohibit sellers of any kind from increasing prices on food, consumer goods, medical or emergency supplies, and certain other items by more than 10 percent.

 

The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.

 

 

 

The State of California announced a new blueprint for reducing COVID-19 in the state with revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions and activities.
Learn more at: Blueprint for a Safer Economy Click Here
Learn more about County Monitoring Click Here
Salons, Barbershops and Malls are able to reopen for indoor services beginning Monday, August 31. These sectors must follow the state issued industry guidance.
Guidance for hair salons and barbershops 

Guidance for shopping malls
All businesses must also register to reopen at www.vcreopens.com. 

If a business already registered they do not need to register again.
View the Governor's Press Conference by clicking here.
Visit the California Department of Public Health County Monitoring Site by clicking here.

 

Gym Ordered to Cease Indoor Operations in Violation of State and Local Health Order

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that the District Attorney’s Office Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit obtained a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) today against BSF Fitness (BSF). BSF is gym located in the City of Ventura. The TRO orders BSF to comply with state and local health orders which currently prohibit indoor operations by gyms and fitness centers. The District Attorney’s Office had previously filed a civil complaint against BSF alleging a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, in response to BSF’s failure to cease indoor operations during the Covid-19 pandemic, as required by law. The TRO requires BSF to abide by the terms of the state and local health orders until the court determines whether a preliminary injunction is appropriate in order to enjoin similar conduct during the pendency of the case.

Local officials have made numerous requests that BSF Fitness comply with the law by ceasing indoor operations while prohibited by state and local health orders. Despite these requests, BSF Fitness has continued to operate in violation of state and local health requirements.

An Order to Show Cause regarding the issuance of a preliminary injunction is set for September 4, 2020, at

9 a.m. in courtroom 42 of the Ventura County Superior Court.

 

Ventura County Rental Assistance Program Helps Thousands of Local Renters

Three months of rent funded to provide relief from COVID-19 impacts

 

Ventura, CA - The Ventura County Pandemic Rental Assistance program advanced the Ventura County Board of Supervisors’ goal to help low-income residents retain their homes at a critical time, using some $11.4 million dollars in federal Coronavirus Relief funding to provide rental payments to more than 1,000 landlords on behalf of 5,413 renters in 1,690 households struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded households span all 10 cities as well as unincorporated areas of county and reflect the county’s demographic makeup.

 

This program also offered referrals for other assistance, including CalFresh, CalWORKs, General Relief and Medi-Cal through mybenefitscalwin.org or 888-472-4463, and free and low-cost community-based resources at vchsa.org/community-resources.

 

“Many community members are struggling to make ends meet. Our goal has been to come alongside and provide support for those in need. We hope the three months of rent combined with other County supportive efforts will help to keep people in their homes,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer.

 

The Rental Assistance Program was launched in June at the direction of the Board of Supervisors. The goal of the program was to provide temporary rental assistance for Ventura County residents who owed past-due rent because of a hardship due to COVID-19. Priority was given to eligible applicants with an annual household income of less than 50% area median income, followed by 80% AMI.

 

“We anticipated a great need for this program countywide,” said Melissa Livingston, Director for the Human Services Agency. “Many renters have not been able to return to work, and they’re struggling to pay for child care, food, and other basic needs – all as they’re watching their back-rent debt grow. This rental program was designed to relieve some of that financial stress.”

 

The rental program is federally funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and prioritizes rental assistance for those with very low incomes who have been unable to pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19.

 

“We understand there is still a need for assistance for many. We will continue to work to provide further opportunities for support for community members struggling to make ends meet,” added Powers.

 

The Board of Supervisors recently approved the design and implementation of a Farmworker Household Assistance Program in partnership with local agriculture, business and community-based donors to support farmworkers in need of rental, household and basic need assistance. The program will return to the Board of Supervisors in early September for final program and funding approval, providing for up to $250,000 match of county general fund dollars to donor dollars. Program outreach has begun, and the initial application window will open in early September, followed by an approval process and distribution of funding.

 

 

For immediate release: August 21, 2020
 
WHAT: On August 26, 2020, the City Council will consider a resolution that reinstates parking restrictions on City streets for all vehicles including passenger vehicles and trailers, with the exception of RVs. Since daily positive test results of COVID-19 continue to be reported for our City and the County overall, it is suggested that RVs continue to be exempted from parking enforcement, allowing residents to self-quarantine away from their residence, if necessary.
 
WHY: In March, the City relaxed enforcement to allow for the temporary parking of Recreation Vehicles (RVs) and other passenger vehicles for more than 72 hours, so long as the vehicles were not obviously abandoned, in an effort to accommodate residents impacted by the Stay at Home Orders that were implemented due to COVID-19. Now, because we are seeing less of a need to allow for passenger vehicles and commercial trailers to be parked on the street continuously and without being moved, staff is recommending reinstating parking restrictions.
 
WHEN: September 2, 2020, is the date staff will be recommending as an implementation date. This allows a few days after the decision to notify residents of the change in the Order. And, this allows residents a few days to move their vehicles.
 
For details, please see the Agenda Report on the City’s website (NOTE: Click on Item III.C on the City Council Agenda to go directly to the Agenda Report).
 

 

 

     Ventura County Elementary schools are now able to apply for waivers to have students learn in the classroom.  For more information go to https://vcportal.ventura.org/covid19/docs/pr/2020-08-19_VCPH_WaiverTemplate.pdf 

 

August 19, 2020

 

Ventura County Public Health Accepting School Waivers

Allows for in person instruction when approved

 

Ventura, CA – Ventura County Public Health has announced today that public and private elementary schools in Ventura County can submit school waiver applications to allow in-person instruction at their campuses. The waivers cover Tk through 6th grades.

 

In accordance with state guidelines, waivers may be granted "when requested by a local superintendent (or equivalent for charter or private schools), in consultation with labor, parent and community organizations. Local health officers must review local community epidemiological data, consider other public health interventions, and consult with the California Department of Public Health when considering a waiver request."

 

In counties such as Ventura County that are on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list, grammar schools can't reopen unless granted a waiver by local and state health officials.

 

“This was a difficult decision. I recognize there are reasons not to open our Health Department to requests for waivers, but we got to the point where I feel the benefits outweigh the risks,” said Doctor Robert Levin, Ventura County Public Health Officer. “Research shows that our youngest children derive significant benefits from in-person interaction with their teachers and with one another in the school setting. We will ensure that schools have a solid plan in place to protect their students and staff and they will work with the health department when there is a case to prevent further spread of the virus. I feel that children K through grade 6 can receive education in a manner that is both rewarding and safe."

 

At the time the state outlined the waiver process for elementary schools, Ventura County did not immediately begin accepting applications. “I’ve waited before approving this because I wanted to see some improvement in our number of COVID cases. Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Harvard’s Global Health Institute, the Chan School of Public Health and the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics all would have supported opening up our grammar schools for waivers weeks ago. I’ve tried to be more cautious,” said Dr. Levin.

 

“Also know that it will be a challenge for schools to get waiver approval. It will not be a done deal. Schools will have to meet rigorous standards of safety and responsibility,” said Dr. Levin. All grammar schools applying for waivers, public or private, are directed to meet, at a minimum, the criteria laid out in the document “Framework for Reopening Ventura County Schools” at the site VCOE.org/coronavirus. Middle schools and high schools are not eligible for waivers. The waiver application itself should be sent to: covidschools@ventura.org

 

One of the most challenging aspects of the waiver application will be a school’s plan for regular COVID testing of its staff and, if they should show symptoms of an illness, of its students as well.

 

The preponderance of evidence indicates that children are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe disease resulting from COVID-19 infection. In addition, children may be less likely to become infected and to spread infection to others.

 

The State guidance lists conditions that must be met in applying for a waiver:

 

  • A school or district must publish a school’s reopening plan online and, before applying, consult with parents, community organizations and teachers or, in the case of school districts, employee unions.
  • The application will apply only to TK to sixth grade, even if the school includes seventh and eighth grades. “Based on the current best available scientific evidence, COVID-related risks in schools serving elementary-age students (grades TK-6) are lower than and different from the risks to staff and to students in schools serving older students,” the department said in an FAQ accompanying the guidance.
  • The school must show evidence that it would comply with all the safety and hygiene requirements for opening elementary schools, as listed in the CDPH/CalOSHA Guidance for Schools and School-Based Programs. These include a 6-foot social distancing requirement, face covering requirements, staff training and family education and student and staff testing.

 

Waiver and Guiding Principle Documents

 

 

 

August 7, 2020

 

Temporary restraining order issued for violation of Public Health Orders

 

Ventura, CA – On Friday, August 7, 2020, the Ventura County Superior Court granted a temporary restraining order requiring Godspeak Calvary Chapel and Pastor Rob McCoy to adhere to statewide and local public health orders requiring church services to be conducted outdoors with masks and social distancing and/or online. 

 

A further hearing on the matter is scheduled for August 31, 2020 and the temporary restraining order will remain in effect until that time.

 

Godspeak Calvary Chapel and McCoy, its pastor, have repeatedly held large, indoor worship services which violate current Health Orders issued by the State Public Health Officer and the Health Officer of Ventura County.  These orders are aimed to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19 during the current global pandemic. 

 

“Indoor gatherings, including indoor church services, are prohibited by the state at this time due to the increased person to person and community transmission leading to increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Churches can have their services outdoors and/or host virtual services,” said Public Health Director Rigo Vargas. “COVID-19 continues to spread from person to person and at gatherings. It is very important to follow the State’s guidance, so that the most vulnerable in our community can be spared from the disease. Churches and other community groups play a valuable role in the wellness of our County. We encourage people to stay connected, but to do so safely.”

 

In counties like Ventura, which are on the State Monitoring List due to concerning rates of disease spread, the health orders prohibit indoor gatherings for a number of businesses, activities, and events to protect the health and safety of residents from contracting COVID-19. 

 

The orders prohibit indoor gatherings for places and events such as gyms and fitness centers, non-essential office buildings, malls, personal care services, hair salons and barbershops, protests, and worship services. 

 

Despite these orders and notifications from Public Health to cease indoor services and to move services outdoors or to host services virtually, Godspeak Calvary Chapel and Pastor McCoy insisted upon holding services indoors, without requiring masks or social distancing. 

 

Pastor McCoy has publicly stated that the church would not cease indoor services absent court intervention.  The County and its Health Officer were therefore compelled to seek relief from the court, to protect the life, health and safety of Ventura County residents.

 

“The best way to gather at this time is virtually or outdoors in accordance with state orders and guidance. The more we can work together to follow these guidelines the quicker we can get back to enjoying activities indoors,” added Vargas.