Coronavirus hits 2 area nursing homes

Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter

Coronavirus cases in Ojai and Oak View spiked this week due to outbreaks in two long-term-care facilities — Ojai Health and Rehabilitation (also known as Providence) in Ojai, and Wellness Care Senior Living at Ojai, which is in Oak View. 

According to Ventura County Public Information Officer Ashley Bautista, 29 residents and 27 staff members at Ojai Health and Rehabilitation have tested positive for COVID-19.

At the Wellness Care Senior Living at Ojai facility, 29 residents and 19 staff members have tested positive, Bautista said.

She said that when there is an outbreak at a long-term-care facility, the Ventura County Communicable Disease Office facilitates testing all staff and residents immediately and then weekly until the outbreak is resolved. 
The first two COVID-19 deaths in Ojai and first death in Oak View were also reported this week by Ventura County Public Health.
Ojai City Manager James Vega provided an update on COVID-19 at the Aug. 25 Ojai City Council meeting.
Vega identified how the spread has increased exponentially in the 93023 ZIP code since the end of May. On May 26, Ojai had six COVID-19 cases ever, compared with 912 total cases in Ventura County.
By June 22, there were still just 14 cases ever in Ojai, and at the end of July it was at 29. That was during the period in which cases countywide were increasing exponentially and stood at 4,615, Vega said.


Vega said: “Most recently, Aug. 25 you’ll see a couple of things. We’re still seeing this 30-day double for the county, but the one concerning thing here in Ojai is we did notice over this last month that there’s been a bigger spike in Ojai and also in Oak View. 
“So it seems like it’s the entire valley, in the 93023 and the 93022 ZIP codes.…. I think we’re still an area that has had really good numbers so far, and I think everybody has gone above and beyond to try to mitigate the risk.”
On Aug. 25, Ojai was up to 82 COVID-19 cases ever, and Oak View stood at 59. 
“All it takes is a couple of spreaders that aren’t using face coverings or aren’t exercising distance and all of a sudden we could see a big spike,” Vega said. “So we just need to keep doing our part.”
Vega highlighted that with more questions being asked about local residential and commercial eviction moratoriums, both will remain in place through the duration of the local state of emergency. Copies of the moratoriums can be found on the COVID-19 page.
Vega also noted that with face-covering requirements still in place, city code-enforcement officers are going around on weekends asking people not wearing them to put them back on. Signs at city entrances also remind visitors about the order.
As far as outdoor activities, Vega said: “We have issued 15 permits to the businesses and restaurants for expanded outdoor space, which I think is actually more than we were expecting. I think that’s a good ratio for how many businesses we have. So we have 15 permits now. We’re working on one pending now, which is going to be kind of an interesting one where we’re looking at utilizing a couple of parking spaces to do it.”
With the outdoor fitness program, the city was charging instructors a reduced fee of $20 per class. However, staff heard from the Parks and Recreation Commission that fee may be too high, so it was reduced to $20 per week with positive results.
Vega concluded: “Next month, I think the big one will be for us is, we’ve figured out how to do distanced individual gymnastics drills, where it’ll be outdoors. That one we think there will be a big demand for. We’re trying to stay creative in ways that we can provide some options for businesses and residents.”


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