by David Michael Courtland

Ventura County residents have mostly cooperated with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “stay safe at home” order, Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a telephone conference about the coronavirus on March 27.

Ayub spoke during a Friday town hall held jointly (and virtually) by Assemblymember Jaqui Irwin and State Senator Henry Stern to present the latest information about the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 20, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered California residents to stay home as much as possible and many businesses to close in an extraordinary effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

That being said, rumors of martial law are untrue –  the National Guard is only helping to distribute food to local food banks, Ayub said.

Local law enforcement, nonetheless, has “been very vigilant on the front lines about responding to tips from the public,” said Ayub. “We’ve responded to incidents of violations; we go out and take a look.” He acknowledged that lack of awareness has led to some violations of the shelter-in-place rule.

“Deputies talk to people congregating in a park,” for example, Ayub said, but a few business owners have been openly resistant to complying. “Some simply disagree that they’re nonessential, they say, ‘I’m not going to close . . . There is the possibility of prosecution.”

Ayub said another possibility is action by state agencies that accredit businesses.

“This is the thing about public safety, our only goal is to assure compliance,” said Ayub, adding that he encouraged people to continue reporting violations to police and sheriff’s departments.

As of March 31, 149 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Ventura County, with five deaths. Regular updates are available at www.vcemergency.com.

Irwin encouraged people who are unable to work during the crisis because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to file a disability insurance claim with the Employment Development Department (edd.ca.gov). She added that anyone left unemployed during the crisis could apply for unemployment insurance benefits and that the deadline to file state income tax returns has been extended to July 15.

The assemblymember, whose district includes the northeast part of Ventura County, pointed people to her office’s official website at a44.asmdc.org for resources to cope with the crisis.

Bruce Stenslie, president of the Economic Development Collaborative (edcollaborative.com), said the recently passed stimulus bill has funding to help individuals as well as small businesses.

“What we’re trying to do with the act is to get money into people’s hands right away to get the economy springing right back,” Stenslie said. “Independent contractors are eligible for disaster unemployment insurance . . . We’ve never seen full income replacement before, usually it’s only a share, but the bill adds funding for that.”

Stenslie noted that there is also an extended sick leave program included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the economic stimulus plan President Donald Trump signed into law last week.

“A worker can take that sick leave and care for family members,” Stenslie said, adding that people could find business and other resources at edcollaborative.com as well as the Employment Development Department’s website.

“We know businesses will avail themselves of these resources,” Stenslie said.

Economic Development Department
www.edd.ca.gov/

Economic Development Collaborative
edcollaborative.com/

Office of Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin
a44.asmdc.org

More resources listed with VCREPORTER HERE.