EL CENTRO — Late Monday evening the Imperial County Board of Supervisors announced its plan to appease Gov. Gavin Newsom’s strong recommendation that the county hit the reset button on its reopening.
Supervisors held a closed meeting Monday afternoon and county officials later met with representatives of state to propose a series of actions to continue mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 in Imperial County.
Much of what they came up with isn’t substantially different from what Imperial Valley residents have lived with over past 3 ½ months, although the recommendations do represent a retreat from where the county was last week.
The county has proposed 13 measures in all:
- Reiterate stay-at-home order and face covering requirements through increased public messaging.
- Strongly encourage businesses to enforce face-covering requirements.
- Close all non-essential businesses to in-store traffic, allowing curbside pickup only.
- Increase educational activity with restaurants further clarifying curbside pick-up.
- Strongly encourage families to limit the number of people visiting a store to one person per family for each visit.
- Prohibit non-essential gatherings of any size.
- Continue encouraging faith-based organizations to conduct virtual religious services; indoor services prohibited, outdoor services will be limited to 100 participants, as long as can implement social distancing measures.
- Encourage telecommuting services, as much as possible, for all businesses.
- Close all county parks and recreational areas to public access.
- Strongly encourage cities to close their parks as well.
- Continue to collaborate and increase targeted engagement with local cities and law enforcement agencies regarding local health orders.
- Engage additional community-based organizations and faith-based groups in a reinvented outreach plan.
- Continue binational partnership with Mexicali to mitigate impacts of COVID-19 in both communities.
It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to satisfy the governor. Speaking at a press conference Monday, Newsom doubled down on his expectation that Imperial County must dial back to Stage One in its COVID-19 recovery plan due to its high positive test rate and high hospitalization percentage.
The governor said he would allow the Board of Supervisors to make the decision or announcement, but added if they choose not to follow his recommendation, he will mandate it.
While the county awaits Newsom’s answer to its proposal, it has begun working independently on implementing increased public engagement and collaboration. County Public Information Officer Linsey Dale said if the state and county come to a consensus on the additional restrictions and engagement, a revised public health order will be issued by Dr. Stephen Munday, Imperial County Public Health Officer, immediately.
“As the County Board of Supervisors, we are committed to adopting additional measures to diminish the impacts of COVID-19,” Chairman of the Board and District 2 Supervisor Luis A. Plancarte said in a written statement. “We ask for all governing bodies in our County to increase engagement within their communities to help us improve the health and safety of its residents.”