While Gov. Gavin Newsom called out people who crowded Southern California beaches this weekend amid the season’s first heat wave, officials in Ventura County thanked residents who followed health orders as they visited the coast.
Last week, both law enforcement and public health officials said it was OK for residents to take advantage of outdoor spaces with eased restrictions, but to do so with caution.
Beachgoers were asked not to congregate or linger at local beaches or parks, and officials said items such as coolers and tarps would not to be allowed.
Residents were also asked to maintain social distancing even while outdoors.
Authorities told CNN that those who ventured out in Ventura County appeared to be following the recommended guidelines.
“Many of you were out and about this weekend, and I’m really glad to hear that so many of you practiced safe social distancing,” Ventura County Supervisor Kelly Long said during a briefing Monday. “I appreciate everyone that followed our soft closures for our beaches and our parks and our harbor being open so that we can exercise, but not be socially gathering.”
Beaches in Orange County, which were also open, drew large crowds of swimmers and sunbathers alike, and even boardwalks and piers appeared to be packed.
Newsom also addressed beach crowding during his daily news briefing Monday, saying “This virus doesn’t take the weekends off. This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful, sunny day around our coasts.”
He said residents shouldn’t congregate at beaches if California is to continue managing the spread of the virus.
But Ventura County CEO Mike Powers said that local residents complied with the “stay well at home” order to a “much higher degree” than in other counties where beaches were open.
“We knew with the weather, and people feeling cooped up it would be a great temptation to go out there, but what we’re seeing was a great response by our community in terms of following the orders and social distancing,” Power said. “Our COVID-19 incident numbers are some of the very best in the state and that’s because of he work that you’re doing.”
As of Monday, the county has 503 cases of coronavirus, while the death toll remains at 17, according to Robert Levin, Ventura County’s health officer.
About 9,200 people have been tested in the county, with a little more than 5% coming back positive, Levin said.
While only symptomatic people are being tested, authorities hope to expand that guidance to include first responders, health care workers and vulnerable populations like those who work and live in the county’s long-term care facilities, Powers said.