Businesses closed

County requests to move to the state’s accelerated stage two. Under an expanded Stage 2 destination retail (retail stores), including shopping malls and swap meets can open with modifications. 

Riverside County has notified Gov. Gavin Newsom that it is ready to cautiously and safely open for business based on public health data. The county has sent a letter and attestation to state officials requesting the county be allowed to take the next step in that direction.

In a May 14 letter to Newsom, Riverside County supervisors said the county has the ability to “meet, exceed or plan to achieve” six of the seven criteria described by the governor to accelerate through the current Stage 2 of the economic expansion plan into the next level. Among the criteria, the county has a plan to protect Stage 1 essential workers; created ample testing capacity; demonstrated the ability to protect vulnerable populations; developed a plan to expand contact tracing capabilities; and exceeded a minimum of 35 percent surge capacity in the county’s health system.

The county is currently at stage two of the governor’s reopening plan, which allows for curbside delivery and pick up of some retail businesses. The county is requesting to move to the governor’s accelerated stage two, which would open additional businesses.

In the letter, the county is asking a variance on the epidemiological benchmarks outlined by the state, particularly a requirement that there be no COVID-19 death for a 14-day period.

“In our opinion, the metrics are unrealistic for urban counties, and Riverside County in particular, where our geographic size and population make it impossible that no” COVID-19 death would take place during the 14-day period. Instead, the letter states, it is appropriate to adopt the federal epidemiology benchmarks, which the county is already achieving because of a downward trend in data.

The Board of Supervisors on May 12 unanimously approved its Readiness and Reopening Framework, which officials described as a commonsense plan that meets both goals of protecting our public health and restoring the economy.

“We are ready to cautiously reopen based on public health data,” the letter states.

See the full story May 22 in the print and online issue of the Record Gazette.

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