More businesses allowed to reopen in Ventura Co. as COVID-19 death toll increases for 1st time in nearly 2 weeks

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More businesses are being allowed to reopen in Ventura County, officials announced Wednesday, as the coronavirus death toll in the region increased for the first time in nearly two weeks.

Childcare facilities, office spaces, full-service car washes, pet grooming businesses, landscaping and gardening businesses, outdoor museums and open galleries can register to reopen on the county’s emergency response website, officials said.

More than 800 local businesses have registered to reopen under the county’s guidance, said Kim Prillhart, director of the county’s Resource Management Agency.

Business owners and employers must make sure they meet requirements to reopen and have a COVID-19 response plan ready. In addition, an on-duty employee must be designated for monitoring compliance with the plan.

Last week, the county allowed low-risk retailers to reopen for curbside pickup. In addition, manufacturing and logistics businesses were also allowed to resume.

As of Wednesday, 24 people have died from COVID-19 complications in the region and there are a total of 725 cases countywide. Fatalities remained at 19 for 12 days before increasing.

Earlier this week, officials said they are planning on further expanding testing as the county tries to meet requirements set by the state in the road to reopening.

At its highest point, Ventura County has tested nearly 700 people, but officials hope to be able to test 1,300 residents daily, Health Officer Robert Levin said Monday. So far, a total of 13,930 people have been tested countywide.

The next phase of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening plan includes dine-in restaurants, and criteria set for that stage is “pretty high,” said Mike Powers, Ventura County’s executive officer.

Powers encouraged businesses that may be allowed to reopen in advanced Stage 2 to look at the state’s guidelines in order to be ready to resume when it is safe to do so.

Newsom said on Wednesday that 12 Northern California counties can continue forward with reopening.

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