Pictured: Busy Bee Diner in Ventura is open only for takeout during the pandemic. Restaurants may soon be able to open their dining rooms if state approves county attestation. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

by Kimberly Rivers

kimberly@vcreporter.com

County attests readiness for expanded State 2 reopening

On Monday, May 18, Governor Gavin Newsom loosened requirements for counties to move into expanded Stage 2 of the state’s reopening roadmap. He acted in an apparent response to county officials across the state saying the milestones the state first laid out were unobtainable. 

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 19, verified the attestation from Dr. Robert Levin, health officer with Ventura County Public Health that the county had met those loosened milestones. The report was submitted to Newsom on Tuesday, and while there is not set timeline for a response from the state Ashley Bautista, Public Information Officer with the Ventura County CEO’s office said some counties have heard back within one day. 

Under the first part of Stage 2, underway now, low risk businesses like childcare, office based businesses, pet grooming and outdoor museums were allowed to open, with restrictions and processes in place to enforce social distancing. 

The expanded State 2 phase includes dine-in restaurants, “destination” retails stores like malls and swap meets. The county is encouraging all restaurants to register in advance of this authorization occurring so they can reopen as soon as the state and county authorize it. Register online HERE.  

Services and events listed by the county that do not fall into this current phase, but are in Phase 3,  include nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios, nightclubs, festivals, movie theaters, libraries, public pools and playgrounds.  

All businesses being allowed to reopen must adhere to Public Health Department requirements and complete the steps online HERE: https://www.vcemergency.com/vc-reopens

For additional information the state reopening roadmap is online at: https://covid19.ca.gov/roadmap/.

ONLINE UPDATE, Thursday, May 21: Last night Ventura County issued a notice that the state had approved the attestation from Ventura County Public Health, which means as of today restaurants who have registered and have the proper social distancing and other protocols in place can open their dining rooms. The new health order and attestation report are online at: https://www.vcemergency.com/newsroom

Three new drive-thru testing sites opened

Three new drive up testing sites opened on Wednesday, May 20:  1) Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road in Ventura 2) Moorpark College, 7075 Campus Rd. Moorpark 3) Ford Dealership 128 S. Hallock Drive, Santa Paula.

More benefits for families on Free and Reduced School Meals

Families who have children enrolled in free and reduced meals at their school, MediCal, CalFresh, SNAP and other similar programs are eligible for $365 per month through the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT). The program is being implemented by the states.

Children already benefiting from these programs, including Foster Care benefit need not apply and should receive their P-EBT card in the mail by May 22. The funds are meant to be used for food. Children are still able to receive food made available now by their local school district. 

If eligible families do not receive their P-EBT card around May 22 they must apply before June 30 to receive benefits. Applications are online at: www.ca.p-ebt.org

County Tax Collector’s office open by appointment

Beginning on May 19 the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office will be open by appointment only for issues requiring in-person assistance. All people with appointments must provide and wear their own mask and gloves. Those without masks and gloves will not be allowed in the building. To make an appointment call: 805-654-3744 or email helpinghand@ventura.org

Certain dental procedures allowed

Dentist offices are authorized to open with certain requirements and restrictions. Requirements include: a two week supply of PPE for staff to wear at all times including N95 respirators, face shields, goggles, gowns, gloves and surgical masks per CDC strategies for extended use of masks. Procedures that can lead to aerosol circumstances should be avoided when possible. Details online at: www.vcportal.ventura.org/covid19/docs/2020-05-14_VCE_PHDentalGuidance_v02.pdf

700,000 masks for agricultural workers

State and county agencies have coordinated to provide 700,000 facemasks for farmworkers and other agricultural workers, which will be distributed through the Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner’s offices in Camarillo and Santa Paula. 

The Ventura County Office of Emergency Service, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation have obtained the masks, and the Commissioner’s office has been reaching out to growers, labor contractors, packing houses and pest control businesses. 

“During this time, we have been working to provide more than 43,000 farmworkers with important information so they are informed about the situation and where they can get needed resources,” said Talia Barrera, manager with the Ventura County Farmworker Resource Program. “This outreach is important during this time and has been very important throughout the year in meeting the needs of this important population.”

“Our food system is critical to our County and Nation’s collective health. Our Farmworkers are critical in keeping the system strong and healthy,” said Ed Williams, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner. 

 For more information about the Agricultural Worker Protection Advisory please contact the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at (805) 388-4222, or online at https://www.ventura.org/agricultural-commissioner/

Employee at CSUCI tests positive

On May 17, California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI) reported one campus employee of the University Police Department, who was on campus (Placer Hall) May 6-9, has tested positive for the coronavirus. That staff member is a non-sworn employee and is now in isolation at their home.

Citing privacy laws CSUCI declined to release further information about the employee. Those who had close contact with the staff member have been notified and have been asked to monitor their health for symptoms and to self-quarantine. 

The campus reports the area has been cleaned daily as part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Any member of the campus community who thinks they are experiencing symptoms should contact their health care provider and/or Student Health Services 805-437-8828. 

Information about the campus response and operations: go.csuci.edu/covid19 

Student made website tracking PPE donations

Michael Golden, a student at Oak Park High School has created a website to facilitate and track donations of PPE to healthcare settings. 

“I created PPENow to help get extra or homemade PPE into the hands of those essential workers that need it most,” said Golden in a written statement. He hopes it will help motivate people to donate more PPE.  “For instance, my family has a few extra N-95 masks in our home just due to fire preparation that we will be donating.”    

Facilities needing PPE can also sign up on the website. www.ppenow.live 

Local universities find ways to honor grads without traditional commencement

Schools serving students of all ages are grappling with how to honor and recognize the achievement of those graduating. 

California Lutheran University (CLU) plans to hold an actual in-person commencement ceremony when large gatherings are allowed and in the meantime those earning new degrees are recognized with online commencement events including recorded speeches, a blessing and performance of the university’s choir and list of all those receiving degrees. CLU virtual commencements are online now at: www.CalLutheran.edu/commencement

California State University at Channel Islands (CSUCI) is holding a live streaming graduate celebration at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 23, the regularly scheduled date of graduation ceremonies. CSUCI is also planning an in-person commencement ceremony to be held in the future.  The university has created a Snapchat filter for students to add a cap and gown to a photo. Graduates were invited to submit a video clip and photo to be part of the livestream event. Information about the livestream event is online now at: https://www.csuci.edu/commencement/commencement-info.htm

Camarillo seeking info for COVID-19 updates 

The city of Camarillo is seeking input from residents on the best way to receive information from the city about COVID-19 and community impacts and response. Camarillo residents are asked to complete an online survey to assist the city in providing needed information in relevant ways. The survey is online at: www.opentownhall.com/portals/353/Issue_8783

Junior Lifeguard program cancelled for 2020 season 

The Ventura County Harbor Department has announced that all sessions of the Ventura County Junior Lifegard program has been cancelled for the 2020 summer season due to concerns with COVID-19.  The program is expected to return in summer 2021.