Supervisor Jeff Hewitt is proposing a 2 month plan to lift all Covid-19 public health lockdown regulations that have crushed the county’s economy since March.
Hewitt says the government lockdowns have created economic impact and job losses that will be felt for years to come.
He says “The state’s lack of clear guidelines has left thousands of people uncertain about their ability to pay bills and provide for their families.”
Right now, Riverside County remains in the most restrictive lockdown mode, which is the color purple according to Governor Gavin Newsom’s color-coded tier system. When the positivity rate drops low enough, the county could move to the less restrictive red tier.
But Hewitt’s plan would require a concession by Newsom and the California Department of Public Health to set the allowable testing positivity rate at 14%, which the county currently meets.
The county currently is under 7% positivity rate for Covid-19 but needs to stay there for 3 weeks in order to qualify to move to the red tier.
Hewitt’s reopening proposal is also a three-phase plan with a relatively expeditious timeline, beginning with Phase I, permitting all dine-in restaurants, houses of worship, indoor offices, personal grooming establishments and shopping malls to open by September 26th.
And Hewitt is still proposing the county’s businesses comply with the state mandates for avoiding all other people…what is called social distancing, wearing facemasks, and washing hands and increasing sanitation practices.
All of this would be under the watchful eye of the County Chief Executive Officer, George Johnson, who has already announced he is retiring in December 2020.
It would relegate County Public Health Officer Dr Cameron Kaiser to an advisory role. Kaiser has had very limited public appearances over the summer.
Under Hewitt’s plan, Phase II of the countywide reopening would begin October 13th and would permit the resumption of wedding receptions and all group events, capped at 25% capacity, or a 100-person limit, whichever is less.
Phase III would be designated for November 3rd, and it would permit the gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters and bars, to open, with state virus-control standards in place.
Hewitt’s plan does not address the state’s standards for reopening schools, which remain closed. Students are still at home learning via computer.
The county’s COVID-19 patient hospitalization rate has been steadily falling since it peaked in mid-July, when 550 people were hospitalized across the county, spread over 17 hospitals.
Photo from Alpha Media Portland OR