Pictured: Gina Gerard, operations assistant and young parent coordinator with Secure Beginnings at a recent diaper bank event in Oak View. Photo Submitted. 

by Kimberly Rivers

kimberly@vcreporter.com

Ventura County COVID-19 Update

As of Wednesday, April 8, Ventura County Public Health is reporting that 243 people in the county have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Of those, 49 people have been hospitalized and 89 people have fully recovered from symptoms related to the illness, COVID-19, associated with the virus. The remaining 148 are quarantined at home. There have been six deaths, all of whom the county reports had “preexisting conditions.” All of those who died were over 70, one was over 80. 

103 people who have tested positive are between 45 and 64 years old, three were under 17. 

San Buenaventura State Beach fully closed, Emma Wood State Beach still open to foot traffic

On April 5, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, which manages state beaches, announced a full closure of San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura, which includes the sand south of Ventura Pier. Last week the state had closed the parking lots to discourage larger groups and visitors from out of town. 

The parking lot and other drive-up access points for Emma Wood State Beach are closed. The beach itself, however, is accessible to those on foot. An April 3 statement on the state beach website for Emma Wood says, “The park is temporarily closed to vehicular access. The park remains open for locals provided they practice safe, physical distancing of six feet or more and are visiting parks near their primary residences. This is not the time for a road trip to a destination park or beach.” 

New closures and any changes online at: www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve

Most farmers markets open, with safety measures

Following the orders issued by Ventura County Public Health and Gov. Gavin Newsom related to essential businesses and stay-at-home orders, many farmers markets in Ventura County have adjusted their market space to adhere to various safety measures to remain open as essential businesses. 

These farmers markets across the county are open: Midtown Ventura (Wednesday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.), Downtown Oxnard (Thursday, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Plaza Park), Thousand Oaks (Thursday, noon to 5 p.m.), Simi Valley (Friday, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.), Camarillo (Saturday, 8 a.m. – noon), Downtown Ventura (Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – noon) and Channel Islands Harbor (Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.). 

The city of Ojai has announced the temporary closure of its Sunday market due to people not adhering to social distancing. An effort to find a temporary alternative location offering more space has so far been unsuccessful. City officials continue to work with the market manager to find a solution. 

When you go to a market, expect to be directed through one entrance and one exit, with the vendors spaced farther apart. Some markets have had to eliminate vendors of non-essential items, and don’t expect live music or other entertainment as the market’s don’t want shoppers to gather or linger. Shop and go is the new rule of thumb. 

Look for handwashing stations and online pay options like Venmo so no cash or cards need to change hands. Those who must pay with cash are asked to bring small bills so they can pay with the correct amounts and not need change. 

Shoppers are encouraged to wash all produce when they get home. 

Diaper donations needed

Secure Beginnings, a nonprofit organization in the Ojai Valley, has seen a massive surge in the need for diapers as low-income families feel the brunt of layoffs and business closures in the wake of the pandemic. 

The organization regularly has two diaper banks per month for Ojai area families and has partnered with Ojai Unified School District to distribute diapers to families at a local public school that is currently closed. On March 19, Secure Beginnings distributed more than seven times the normal amount of diapers. At each event families receive one pack of diapers and wipes per child.  

Secure Beginnings is asking for donations of diapers and financial contributions to support its efforts. The organization’s mission is to support families with children 0-5 by nurturing their earliest relationships, which lay the foundation for lifelong healthy development.

For more information call 805-646-7559, email info@securebeginnings.org or visit www.securebeginnings.org/donate .

Launch ramp at Channel Islands Harbor closed

The Ventura County Harbor Department announced the public launch ramp and beach parking lots at Channel Islands Harbor are closed until further notice as part of the effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Beaches in the area were closed last week.

Parking lot closures include Silver Strand and Kiddie Beaches. 

Plans for Palm Sunday services result in Councilmember resigning

On Sunday, April 5, the city of Thousand Oaks issued a statement that city councilmember Rob McCoy had resigned. That statement followed McCoy’s statements, which made national headlines, that he would lead in-person Palm Sunday services, including communion at the church where he serves as senior pastor. 

On April 5, the website for the church Godspeak stated, “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Godspeak will not be holding services at our physical location. Instead, we will be holding a single Livestream at 11 a.m. on Sunday Mornings until further notice.” However, the website included instructions for social distancing for the in person communion service. 

McCoy’s plans were contrary to state stay-at-home orders to help stop the spread of novel coronavirus. 

The city’s statement said “it is likely that [the seat made vacant on the council] will remain vacant until filled during the upcoming November election.”  

No cases of virus at Juvenile Justice facility

As of March 26, no positive cases of novel coronavirus have been reported at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility on Wright Road in Camarillo. The facility is operated by the California Department of Corrections which also operates the California Education Authority. High school classes are ongoing at the facility with social distancing. 

Port of Hueneme keeps moving

Port operations are deemed essential under all orders and the port is operational while “following best practices and social distancing guidelines,” according to a statement issued earlier this month by the Port of Hueneme. More information at www.portofhueneme.org/coronavirus-update 

Alert for COVID-19 scams 

The Ventura County District Attorney issued a statement that federal and local law enforcement have reported an increase in scams targeting consumers and issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples include fake charities, fake treatments and testing, fake suppliers of face masks and household goods, and government scams involving scammers posing as government agencies using robocalls, emails and text messages attempting to get PIN numbers 

“The District Attorney reminds county residents to never provide your PIN over the phone, through a text message or e-mail correspondence.”

Public schools go to online learning for remainder of school year

On April 2, the Ventura County Office of Education announced that, in order to ensure student safety and compliance with all social distancing orders related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, all school districts in the county agreed to keep all campuses closed for the remainder of the 2019-20. All districts will be providing distance learning for the rest of the year. 

Districts are working to provide all students with the needed tools including laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots for those students who need them. When online/digital options are not workable they are also using paper options. 

“While we would like nothing more than to welcome students back to campus before the end of the year, the health and safety of our communities has to be the first priority,” said Stan Mantooth, superintendent of schools with the Ventura County Office of Education. “We understand that these closures place a tremendous burden on families and we will do everything we can to expand distance learning and continue providing meal service to students in need.”

It is expected that all charter schools in the county will also go to online learning for the school year as well. 

Many districts are also providing no-cost meals for students. Details online at www.vcoe.org/meals.  

Access to child care for essential workers expanded

On April 4, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an order that removes some barriers effectively expanding access to child care for essential workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Child care programs subsidized through the California Department of Education and California Department of Social Services can now prioritize children of essential workers including healthcare, emergency response, law enforcement and grocery workers. 

The changes will not remove priority for abused and neglected children. The order allows the state to access new Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) options for children to reduce food insecurity by the state sharing information to identify eligible students for pandemic SNAP benefits. 

All governor orders are online: www.gov.ca.gov/category/press-releases/

State information on COVID-19 response: www.covid19.ca.gov

Local resource list compiled by VCReporter HERE.