Pictured: Oxnard City Hall. Photo courtesy of the City of Oxnard. 

by Kimberly Rivers

Citing an effort to help prevent a serious surge in COVID-19 cases in the area, several cities have announced they will be temporarily closing facilities and programs to the public. 

“More people are infectious and spreading the virus indoors,” said Dr. Robert Levin, health officer with Ventura County Public Health. “Limiting close contacts, wearing a mask indoors to prevent getting infected and infecting others, isolating when symptomatic, testing and getting vaccinated can reduce the likelihood of severe COVID affecting you, your family and community.” 

FREE TESTING AND VACCINATION CONTINUES | All members of the public can access to vaccinations, including boosters, at no cost. Testing is also offered for free to the public.  For information on vaccinations in Ventura County visit www.vaccines.gov. The public can make appointments at www.myturn.ca.gov.  There are 14 no-cost state testing sites operating in Ventura County. Details are located at www.vcrecovers.org/testing.

Ventura County and the cities of Ventura and Oxnard reported that facilities and certain programs would be closing to the public. All municipalities emphasized that all necessary services will continue operations, appointments can be made when necessary and online meetings can be scheduled. 

Ventura County Public Health reported that between Wednesday, Dec. 29, and Sunday, Jan 2, 5,283 new COVID-19 cases were reported out of 34,015 tests completed. 

On Friday, Dec. 31, the county reported 109 people in local hospitals and 18 in the ICUs requiring care for COVID-19. That number jumped by Monday, Jan. 3, to 162 people in the hospitals with an additional 27 requiring care in the ICU. 

The seven-day average case rate has increased to 46 per 100,000. 

“The increase in cases is almost double our high during the summer Delta surge,” said Rigoberto Vargas, director of Ventura County Public Health. Ventura County cited health officials attributing the increase in cases to holiday gatherings and the more contagious Omicron variant. According to the county, “the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 is currently very high.”

City of Ventura closures 

Starting Jan. 3, the city of Ventura closed all city facilities and canceled all in-person recreational programs and services, effective through Jan. 16, 2022. The level of spread will be reevaluated at that time to determine whether reopening would be appropriate, according to a statement released by the city. 

“This temporary closure allows critical services and operations to continue while minimizing opportunities where transmission may be possible,” said Akbar Alikhan, assistant city manager for Ventura. 

City employees will be available to address questions by phone and email during regular business hours during the temporary closure period. 

 Facilities in Ventura subject to the temporary closure include city hall, lobbies at fire and police headquarters, the Sanjon maintenance yard, Ventura Avenue Adult Center, Barranca Vista Center, Westpark Community Center, Ortega and Olivas Adobes. Meals for seniors will be available for pickup at the Ventura Avenue Adult Center. 

Some facilities will remain open subject to certain protocols including the Ventura Aquatic Center, Buenaventura Golf Course and the Olivas Links Golf Course. 

The Ventura City Council, Commission and committee meetings will be held virtually and all public safety services will continue standard operations.  

For more information on city of Ventura programs affected, call 805-658-4726 or visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/parksrec. For Ventura Water questions, visit www.venturawater.net or call customer care at 805-667-6500. For a water emergency, contact 805-650-8010.

 Oxnard closures

On Dec. 29 the city of Oxnard announced that beginning on Jan. 3 “most city facilities and programs will be temporarily closed to the public.” The city stated a reopening date will be set “as it is determined to be safe,” with an expected date of reopening in approximately three weeks. 

“As we continue to provide essential services, we need to limit the amount of potential virus spread and protect the city’s workforce,” said Alexander Nguyen, Oxnard City Manager. 

Oxnard facilities subject to the closure include city hall and the civic center, Oxnard Service Center, Oxnard Housing Department, lobbies of the Oxnard Police and Fire Departments, and the Del Norte Buy-Back Center. Four senior centers are also being closed: Colonia, South Oxnard, Palm Vista, Wilson. The closure includes the lawn bowls. Senior nutrition meals are available for pickup at those locations. The Oxnard Tennis Center and Youth Centers at South Oxnard, Colonia, Woutwins and PAL will be closed, along with three basketball gyms at Colonia, PAL and Rio Vista.

Oxnard’s Special Populations, recreation class, youth and adult sports and library programs will all be paused during the closure. 

City employees are available via phone and email with virtual appointments also available during normal business hours. 

For more information, visit www.oxnard.org

Ventura County closures

On Jan. 1, Ventura County reported that buildings would be closed and some services modified for three weeks “as a precautionary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19.” During that time monitoring will take place and a reopening date will be announced after three weeks have passed. 

“Services will continue as we temporarily modify operations. Community members are encouraged to take advantage of online services or schedule an appointment in advance,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers.

All 25 county agencies will continue to operate and provide services. This includes health, social services, public safety, public works and more. Curbside walk-up and pickup will be available at Ventura County Library branches. Online services through the libraries will still be available and computer kits with Internet access are also available. More information at www.vencolibrary.org.  

The public can make appointments for county services not available online by calling 805-654-5000.