RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — The Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a comprehensive plan to remove regulatory hurdles connected to the statewide coronavirus emergency, allowing the local economy to reopen faster.
The supervisors’ 5-0 vote formally established the Readiness & Reopening Framework as the primary in-progress strategy for creating pathways to expand the number of sectors eligible to revive operations in the face of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-phase virus-related deregulation plan.
“This is to make Riverside County ready for the next stage of reopening,” Juan Perez, Transportation and Land Management Agency director, said. “This will signal to the state that we’re ready to move on. It provides robust guidance for protecting public health.”
The Readiness & Reopening Framework’s goal focuses on expediting the removal of closures impacting all of the county’s businesses, as well churches and other entities.
“This is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Perez said. “This provides the right level of guidance that can be supplemented with state guidance. It hits those notes well.”
The plan said that the number of flu-like illnesses has been steadily declining over the past month and Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said there has been a two-week “downward trend” of COVID-19 cases in the county.
And while Gov. Gavin Newsom said most of the state was in phase two of reopening, county officials said the requirements for moving forward under that plan were too strict.
On Friday, the supervisors agreed that requiring a county have a coronavirus-related death toll of zero for 14-days before moving forward was asking too much. And, on Tuesday, Saruwatari said that requiring a county to record no more than 250 new COVID-19 cases in a rolling 14-day period was “not realistic for a large urban county.”
Riverside County has the second-highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the state, behind only Los Angeles County. As of Tuesday, the county saw an increase of 59 cases and eight deaths, bringing countywide totals to 5,248 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 225 deaths.
The document contains proposed best practices that encourage physical distancing, face coverings and gloves where they would be most useful, establish policies to require ill employees to remain home and using partitions or panels to lessen interactions that could pose a risk.
The measures would be put in place to ensure the public health system, merchant and business community, long-term care facilities and other operations are situated to manage ongoing virus-related challenges
“We need to be proactive, not reactive, when dealing with our most vulnerable populations,” Supervisor Jeff Hewitt said. “We’re talking about people, not statistics.”
The second half of phase two will permit opening dine-in restaurants, personal grooming establishments, places of worship and wineries — with safeguards in place.
The third phase will allow theaters, libraries, museums, bars and lounges to open without fear of state penalties, and the final phase will allow convention centers, sporting venues and concert halls to reopen.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)