Ventura County moves forward with reopening after Newsom eases criteria

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Ventura County officials on Monday said they are moving forward with reopening after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he is easing criteria for jumpstarting the economy.

The adjusted requirements change rates for new cases and hospitalizations, and removes all death rate requirements, and under those criteria, 53 of California’s 58 counties can move ahead with recovery, the governor said.

County Executive Mike Powers said county officials have been in communication with the state and will apply to further reopen under the new guidelines. He explained that it is up to each county’s health officer to move forward with allowing more businesses to reopen, and that Dr. Robert Levin will make his case to the Board of Supervisors during a special meeting Tuesday morning.

Their revised application to reopen will then be sent to the governor’s office, Powers said.

He hopes that by Wednesday, dine-in restaurants will be allowed to resume business, but questions remain about in-store retail, schools and indoor malls.

Ventura County has already allowed retail businesses as well as manufacturing and logistic companies to reopen. Additionally, childcare facilities, office spaces, full-service car washes, pet grooming businesses, landscaping and gardening businesses, outdoor museums and open galleries were also allowed to reopen.

Companies must first register to reopen on the county’s emergency response website. Powers has encouraged businesses that haven’t been allowed to reopen yet, but might soon be able to do soon, to look at guidelines the county has put in place.

As of Monday, Ventura County has a total of 825 coronavirus cases, but the death toll remains at 25, said Rigoberto Vargas, the county’s public health director.

He continued to tout the county’s relatively low coronavirus figures and said that they are the reason why the region can reopen ahead of others. But even as the economy recovers and more places can open, Vargas urged residents to still maintain their distance from people outside their households.

“It’s very important for all Ventura County residents to continue to socially distance, to abide by protocols when you do visit these sectors … because it’s very important for us to continue on this path,” Vargas said.

While many parks and trails have been open in Ventura County for weeks, officials closed Foster Park in Ventura on Sunday because of overcrowding and illegal parking.

Every resident in the county can now get tested for free at two sites, one in Oxnard, and one in Newbury Park.

In total there are nine testing sites in the county, and three more will open Wednesday as officials work to expand capacity.

So far, more than 17,000 residents have been tested countywide, and with the new sites opening up, officials hope to be able to test more than 1,600 people a day.

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