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Ventura County officials highlight farmworker safety, prioritize testing for those with COVID-19 symptoms

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 cases reached 101 on Wednesday, according to county government officials who held a press conference Wednesday at Limoneira Co. in Santa Paula.
They said they plan to travel to different areas of the county to hold press conferences on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
The July 15 press conference focused on outreach to farmworkers about safety protocols since, as of Wednesday, they made up 7% of the total 4,787 Ventura County residents who have ever been infected with the coronavirus since it was first reported in the county on March 6.
Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas cautioned that with COVID-19 outbreaks “rampant” in the county, residents must stay vigilant and adhere to the latest Public Health orders that added restrictions to several businesses and restricted youth sports activities on July 13.
Angeles Small of Logrando Bienstar, a program of Ventura County Behavioral Health, said bilingual county outreach and engagement counselors are available by phone throughout the day and by calling 805-973-5220.
Also Israel Nicolas-Vasquez, program administrator of the Ventura County Farmworker Resource Program, said the agency is helping educate agricultural workers about how to stay safe and providing that information in English, Spanish and indigenous languages, such as Mixteco.
Barry Zimmerman, chief deputy of the county Health Care Agency, said that due to more people getting tested, the county is implementing a new policy that top priority for testing will be given to those who are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms; have symptoms; are in close contact with infected people; or have a connection to a COVID-19 outbreak.

 

However, officials said asymptomatic people will not be turned away at the drive-through sites.
Free COVID-19 drive-through testing sites (no appointment needed) are open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., except for Oxnard College, which is open Friday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The testing sites are:
• Former Ford dealership, 128 Hallock Drive, Santa Paula.
• Moorpark College, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark.
• Oxnard College, 4000 S. Rose Ave., Oxnard.
• Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura.
• Testing is also available at county clinics and state sites.
Also, the county will provide mobile testing, with its first stop in Piru on Saturday.
Ventura County was one of the first large counties in the state to start to reopen businesses due to the progress it was making in flattening the COVID-19 curve. But, last month, as the county’s hospitalization cases increased, it landed on the state’s monitoring list.
On July 13, it was one of several counties that had to roll back openings when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he was again closing gyms, places of worship, malls, hair salons and other personal-care businesses in Ventura County and several other counties. All of these businesses may continue to operate outdoor operations.
However, retail stores with outdoor entrances can stay open, according to Ventura County Public Information Officer Ashley Bautista.
The governor's new order, followed by a new order by Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin, went into effect July 14.
To read the new Ventura County Public Health order, visit www.venturacountyrecovers.org and also see www.venturacountyrecovers.org/faqs. Those frequently asked questions are directives from the state and/or local public Health officer and have the same force and effect as other official directives.
Restaurants are allowed to continue outdoor dining and provide takeout meals.
The following businesses are required to close indoor operations:
— Fitness centers
— Worship services
— Indoor protests
— Offices for nonessential sectors.
— Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
— Hair salons and barbershops.
— Malls
Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Levin also prohibited “all organized and/or recreational team sports activities” until further notice. “This prohibition applies to members of a team gathering together for games, practices, physical conditioning, drills and any other group activity that involves two or more persons gathering at the same place and time for an organized team activity.”

Day camps continue to be allowed, provided campers comply with social-distancing requirements, Levin said in a written statement.