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VC Public Health officer shares COVID-19 worries with supes

 6 24 Boyer

Screenshot of Bruce Boyer, pictured in cowboy hat near lectern, refusing to move from seat marked with a sign requesting meeting participants not sit in it, to allow for physical distancing. After Boyer refused to move, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors hearing room was cleared so the meeting could continue without the public in the room.

 

Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin warned at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting that the rising number of COVID-19 cases indicates the county is "starting to lose this battle against COVID-19."

His comments came after he reviewed the governor's mask guidelines and explained the protocols for reopening movie theaters and personal-care services.

 

The meeting was recorded and can be viewed at:

https://ventura.granicus.com/player/clip/5438?view_id=100

Dr. Levin's warnings were delivered at the 1 hour and 1 minute time stamp of the meeting.

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6 24 number 1

Reading from prepared comments, via video conferencing, for about seven minutes during the meeting, Dr. Levin said:

"Let me pause here for a moment. Let me pause for an unpleasant reality. If my reading is correct, we are showing the first signs of starting to lose this battle against COVID-19 in our county. Statewide, we’ve seen an increase in cases of 16 percent over the last days. This is happening all over the nation. Sixteen percent is nothing. There are places that are increasing 40 percent.

"The state reassures us that the level of increase is not worrisome. Well, it worries

6 24 numbers hospitalme and it should worry you. It worries me because of what I see around me. I see our numbers starting to climb. I see gatherings of people. I see them in front of restaurants. I saw a gathering of what  must have been 100 or more people crowded together shoulder to shoulder watching a skateboard competition of some sort on Sunday morning in a park located where the 33 meets the 101. They were packed together.

"I hear those that deny that COVID-19 is a threat. I am less concerned about the impact that they have on our COVID

6 24 bedsnumbers than I am about the many of us who conveniently dismiss the threat of this virus. On the one hand, we know that the growth of this pandemic — our loss of control over it — would be a terrible thing. On the other hand, we excuse our misbehaviors as frivolous and meaningless.

"The having of friends over to dinner — after all, we can go to restaurants, the increasing amount of time we spend away from home socializing. I know I sound like a zealot to you, but I admit some of these limited breaches, I admit to them myself. I guess that’s why I assume that many of the rest of us are doing the same, but we must stop.

6 24 LEVIN MASKS"We see businesses. stores, restaurants opening around us and we tell ourselves it’s over, the worst is over. The real big offenders — the highest-risk activities — those are the parties, the barbecues, the socializing while on the job, at lunch or during breaks. It’s like we’re cheating on our diet and angry or baffled that we can’t lose weight. There’s all those times we’re not cheating, but when the few times we do, all that effort is for naught. So, what is the price we pay? Where are we headed?

6 24 Levin more open"More cases of COVID-19? More people hospitalized? More people in our ICUs? More people dead? These are all bad outcomes. The deaths are tragic outcomes.

"What they have in common is something difficult to grasp, something that is hard to imagine because we’ve never seen it before. That is an overwhelming of our healthcare system. What that comes down to is not only unnecessary deaths from COVID, but unnecessary deaths from other illnesses for lack of available hospital beds. Instead of surviving your severe infection or your heart attack, you’re dying needlessly for lack of a hospital bed. There are long lines outside of hospitals for the seriously ill waiting to be seen, waiting just to get in.

"At this point, the state will step in. They will roll back all the businesses and activity reopenings that we’ve seen. This hasn’t happened yet, but I’m concerned that it will. We will be expected to strictly quarantine in our homes like we willingly did when this

6 24 LEVIN openingswhole thing began three or four months ago. Businesses, savings and lives will be ruined. Some have been ruined already. More will be.

"But we can prevent that future from happening. It’s not that hard. We have several tools at our disposal. You can count on the county to continue to find cases of COVID-19 to work with them to isolate, to learn who their contacts were, and to help them quarantine themselves. 

"But this won’t be enough, not if we keep creating more and more cases. Some of my colleagues in other counties have already given up on this. 

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"We can self-quarantine and social distance again. We can supervise ourselves better in our human-to-human interactions. We can still leave the house for essentials, for exercise, even to go out for a meal once in a while. If we’re trying to decide what to do, let’s try to do the thing that is less crowded. We should avoid gatherings. I think we should stop going out to do frivolous and unnecessary things.

"I could wait two or three weeks before I tell you this. It would be safer. It would be less controversial. I wouldn’t look like I was trying to scare you, and I’m not trying to do that.

6 24 Levin still open

"I hope and want all of us to work together to resolve that this needn’t happen to us. That picture I painted needn’t happen to us. We deserve our freedom, but the reality is we just can’t have it yet. This is a classic case of deferring our reward, deferring our reward until this damn situation lets up and allows us to have our freedom again."

 

His comments came after some people, during public comment, criticized the earlier stay-at-home orders and the governor's statewide mask guidelines. This was the second meeting of the Board of Supervisors open to the public since the shutdown started in March.

 

Speakers included:

Heu Whitten:

"It is not government's job is not to keep us healthy....

6 24 LEVIN state

"Likewise, it is not my job to keep other people healthy....

"Never before have healthy people been ordered to lock down and cover their faces ....

"It's just neurotic....

"Afraid it will lead to forced and dangerous vaccines....

"How many deaths have been schoolchildren since we are telling children they have to wear these suffocating masks all day? ..

"There is no emergency. ..."

 

Kevin Daly:

 "No grounds for state of emergency based on public health...

"COVID-19 can't be legally called an epidemic. ...

 "Emergency orders are illegal.

"Why can Black Lives Matter (protesters) not wear masks, and .. when people like us who have conservative values, when we try to get away with not wearing masks, we are evil sinners?"

Jessica Colborn of Ojai, a nurse at a teaching facility:

"As healthcare professionals, appreciate what you have done. ...
"Our school helps to create the heroes who are on the front lines. ...
"Teaching students online is virtually impossible. ...
"Our students have to have hands-on experience. ...
"Primary sites are the skilled nursing facilities. ...
"Students are trained in infection prevention. They are an asset to the already stressed staff at these facilities." She said she hoped the nursing students would be considered essential workers and able to get training at care facilities.

Lisa Munoz:

"I would like to talk about the unlawful public health emergency that is happening. ...
"You have a duty ... to terminate this local health emergency. There are no grounds for a local health emergency. ...
"Now we are in June, supposed to be in rebuilding phase, the recovery stage, because you have broken your oaths ...
"Also at risk of being charged with a felony for fraud. ... That involves prison time.
"Fraud means you intentionally misrepresented the facts for your benefit.
"Perhaps you care more about taking money," federal or state, than you do about the people of our county.
"Remember 2020 — Trump. Vote for Trump."

Emailed comment from LULAC representative in Simi Valley:

"We stand with Black Lives Matter ...
Glad to see Ventura County government note celebration of Juneteenth.

County Counsel Leroy Smith

Mask order by governor has to stay in place until rescinded.
Board of Supervisors does not have to include the public. It holding this public hearing because we choose to.
Board of Supervisors is meeting all the requirements of the Brown Act.
Supervisor Kelly Long cleared the Board of Supervisors hearing room when Bruce Boyer, who ran for sheriff in 2018, sat in a seat that was marked to be vacant for public distancing. The public then had to watch the meeting on screens outside the board hearing room and were allowed in to give their public comment and then ushered back out.

Ventura County Public Heath Director Rigoberto Vargas:

131 new confirmed COVID-19 cases since Monday, June 22.
Hospitalization rate is up to 51, which could result in Ventura County being flagged by the state to be on its list of concern again.
We are at 20 percent over and the allowed by the state is 10 percent, so we are over.
Looking at the specific drivers leading to this increase.
We believe there is increased community transmission.
That is very concerning.
All 43 people who have died have had COVID-19.
Ventura County contact tracers are still catching up on over 1,000 leads.
ICU number at 18 is increasing as well, which is concerning.
Limiting public gatherings, wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing important.
Barry Zimmerman, director of the county Health Care Agency:
1,500 tests given at the four drive-through testing sites — Santa Paula at former Ford dealership, 128 S. Hallock Drive and the three community colleges in Ventura, Oxnard and Moorpark — on Monday, June 22. Trying to get ahead of the bubble that has occurred.
Samples couriered to Monrovia and the average time is 48 hours for a response.
The county is involved with a community group to do antibody testing. They are looking for those who have had COVID-19 to see if they have antibodies.
County will do 10-day testing. Response in Simi Valley Monday was overwhelming. Did 400 samples, which was the maximum that could be handled. Not designed for 100 percent. Did have to turn away a number of individuals. Expect a lot in Thousand Oaks today.
6 24 RENTAL
Vulnerable residents discussion by Melissa Livingston, director of county Human Services Agency:
Discussed rental assistance program by county, distributing $10 million in federal coronavirus relief funds. The applications opened June 17 and will be open through July 1 at www.vcemergency.com/rent
Business grants:
Three virtual meetings about the program on June 24, 26 and 30.
Applications for $5,000 business grants, from $10 million in federal coronavirus funding, opened June 24 and will be open for a two-week period only from June 24 to July 8. Applications available at:
County CEO Powers:
Looking to expand space to house vulnerable, homeless individuals.
He said there have been requests for quotations from local developers to convert motels into housing for vulnerable people without shelter.
John Zaruca of Wedgewood Weddings:
He said his employees took the COVID-19 tests and it took nine days for results.
He said the latest rules allowing weddings, but no receptions or parties for them "ruins lives."
"You have just shut down an entire business and moved them to back yards."
"Nobody asked if we have good protocols for this because we do."

John Ziegler:

"This board is pretending that your emperor Dr. Levin has not been against a mask declaration.
"Was Dr. Levin wrong these last few months? If he was wrong, why was he not fired for being catastrophically wrong?
"Ironically, this was one of the things Dr. Levin has been right about ....
"We now have a panic of 51 hospitalizations. ...
"This is not a crisis. You, however, have created one. ...
"You have now ended all relevant life. ...
"You should all be ashamed of yourself. ...
"Hope there is no hell. ...
"You are not going to be dying of COVID, either."
Supervisor Steve Bennett:
Dr. Levin's advice was that unless there was a supply of medical masks was available, he was opposed to masks.
He did not want people wearing the medical masks and taking them away from the healthcare professionals.
6 24 BABER
Deborah Baber,  pictured left, who stated she is a "proud Trump supporter" and carried a cutout on a stick of President Trump's face:
Baber spoke at last week's Board of Supervisors meeting, holding up a Trump sign, and sang "America the Beautiful," during her public comments, which went viral. 
She said, "I had gone viral with more than 1 million views. ...
"Last I looked I had more than 2 million views. ...
"Got on Jimmy Kimmel. ...
"I have received ugly, vile, threatening remarks. ...
"Why did they do this? Because they have no facts. ...
"They have got nothing, nada, zero. ..
"It is not normal for people to cover their faces. It is an act of submission, subjugation, of slavery, shame. ...
"This is my face covering," holding a cutout of Donald Trump.
"Stop this ridiculous charade," she continued, of trying to "force grownups to play peekaboo."
Woman representing Walnut Grove Weddings:
Do want to protect the community.
We have moved more than 40 events that are turning out in people's back yards.
That does not provide the space to do social distancing.
Jen Lawler, representing Maravilla Gardens wedding venue:
It has just been tough.... Not a lot of answers.
Want to be ready to have weddings and want to know the rules for doing it now for when we are allowed to reopen.
Rob Lawler, representing Maravilla Gardens:
"We just want to be treated with equal protection."
Woman, who said she has asthma and diabetes:
"If coronavirus was real, I would be dead, and I am not."
Barbara Goodrich, outdoor wedding venue and nursery owner in Somis:
Local farming slowly being strangled.
Had to postpone 38 events so far. Some canceled altogether. People are getting married in their back yards.
Here in support of opening wedding venues.
Stephanie Sellars, who said she is "a proud Trump Republican":
It is clear to me that the county Board of Supervisors, cities and Gov. Newsom have no intention of putting down emergency orders.
They are treating the situation like it is ebola when COVID numbers are no more than the flu.
They are using psy ops. Clearly, there is no public threat.
They are trying to persuade people not to go to the polls, to turn our state into monarchy with Newsom as the king.
Mask guidance is not an order. Wearing a mask is "like bringing a condom to a baby shower."
This is a treasonous violation against our republic and you will be held accountable.
Kevin Daly:
"The numbers have dropped for COVID ... The curve has been flattened. Why are we being asked to wear masks? ...
"You are puppets of Dr. Robert Levin. ...
"Placer and Yuba counties voted to open up a month ago. ...
"It's all about the purse strings. ...
"It's all about the money, isn't it? ...
"This is not about public health. This is about money. This is a violation of civil rights, having us wear masks. ...
"This is crazy and insane that you guys are wearing masks ..."
He left the lectern singing "God Bless America."

Bruce Boyer

"I don't wear masks. They are a sign of submission. ...
"Guidelines are not law. ...
"I don't wear a mask. I haven't worn a mask in months. If anyone challenges you, say, 'I am exempt.'" ...
"I don't do health screenings. I don't answer questions. I don't take temperature checks. ...
"We are operating under a system of tyranny. ...
"We live in a constitutional republic. ...
"These are not laws. We are not going to comply. ...
"We defy you. You have no legal authority to put these rules on us. ...
"Your rules have no teeth. ...
"You will be exposed as the frauds that you are. ...
"My attorney will be in touch. ...
Steven Kozell via Zoom:
Thanked Board of Supervisors and Dr. Levin for improvements in dashboard reports on COVID-19 cases in county.
Still not real clear on if there are any metrics on the actual testing.
With delays in test results, you lose a lot of the advantages of tracing.
That will really be the key to getting this under control.
Heard there is a 30-foot slip stream behind people jogging. Can someone check that?
Carmen Ramirez, Oxnard councilwoman and candidate for Ventura County supervisor
"Thank you for your service. ...
"Really want to appreciate the service of Dr. Levin and Rigo Vargas. ...
"I see the pain it is causing economically from business owners and farmworkers. ...
"Believe we have to listen to the science and pay attention. Really appreciate the regard for the vulnerable people in our community. ..."
CEO Powers:
Positive test results are received in two days.
Supervisor Bennett:
Protect us from overloading the hospitals and people die from other health issues.
Avoiding that overload is essentially they key.

Deborah Baber heard singing "America the Beautiful" outside the Board of Supervisors' chamber.

Hearing room doors closed and the board continued with the rest of the agenda that was not about COVID-19.

 

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