Public health and advocacy

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story. The Ojai Valley News has asked Ventura County Public Health to disseminate more relevant facts about the current status of COVID-19 patients in the Ojai Valley, and in which cities the deaths have occurred. The numbers from Public Health of COVID-19-positive patients continue to go up on its city-by-city chart, even while the number of active cases has dropped to 160 as of May 6 (if you do the arithmetic yourself). While you won’t hear it from county Public Health since it refused our public records request, the Ojai Valley News has learned there is currently one active case in the Ojai Valley and no deaths, to date.
We wrote to Supervisor Steve Bennett about the obfuscated facts. We also shared with him the relief we heard from our readers when they learned that six of the then-seven people in the Ojai Valley with COVID-19 had recovered. We want to thank Supervisor Bennett for taking up the public’s right to know at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting when he reiterated our request as a need for the Ojai Valley. He asked: “If there was some way of identifying on that city list who’s active and not active … if there is something that could be done with that, I think it could help ease some people’s anxieties in the community from thinking there are that many cases walking around.”
The Ojai Valley News urges Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas and county Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Levin to implement these changes this week. We want the community to be aware of our efforts and understand (if you don’t already) that your local newspaper functions as a watchdog for the people of the Ojai Valley.
Obtaining public records regarding the city of Ventura’s grab for Ojai’s water rights earlier this year, after formally complaining to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, is just one example of the role of a free press in securing the public’s right to know about vital issues. We gather information, report and advocate for the people. We continue to fight for your right to public information because knowledge is power and helps people make informed choices. The more support the Ojai Valley News has from subscribers and advertisers, the more in-depth reporting we are able to provide in print and online. For 129 years, the Ojai Valley News has shared the stories of our time and place, writing the first draft of history (and for a small town, usually the only draft).
In our Summer Ojai magazine, available July 24, senior reporter Perry Van Houten tells the story of Ojai during the 1918 pandemic. His only source of information is from the Ojai newspapers at the Ojai Valley Museum. One-hundred years from now, these are the news editions Perry’s great-grandchild might be combing through for information about the 2020 pandemic in the Ojai Valley. The names on the thank you to advertisers, the story about the Ben Franklin store closing, the record rattlesnake year and all of today’s articles will be the history book of our valley. We were here!
Thank you, dear readers, for helping us share your stories. Together, we plan to grow this essential resource for the good of our community. We are working for you. Please feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 805-646-1476.
Laura Rearwin Ward, publisher
Marianne Ratcliff, editor
Bob Daddi, owner