Ventura County urges residents to get tested for COVID-19 as positive cases increase

Image+provided+by+the+CDC

Image provided by the CDC

By Aleea Evangelista

Ventura County explained their adjusted approach to testing and preventative measures to handle the demand of increasing COVID-19 cases in a press conference on Nov. 18.

Ventura County Board of Supervisors Board Chair Kelly Long discussed the county’s transition to complying with Governor Newsom’s emergency brake on reopening, as Ventura moves back to the purple tier. Long warns residents to avoid “public contact”, which the county claims are one of the main ways of spreading COVID-19.

“I want to let you know that myself, Mike Powers and our Board of Supervisors have been advocating with the state. We asked them to keep our businesses open and to make sure that we are telling everyone to not be social gathering,” said Long.

Long noted that Ventura County businesses are about 98% accurate in following the state’s health guidelines. To keep the county’s businesses open, Long urges Ventura County residents to shop locally and support small businesses while practicing social distance measures.

Rigoberto Vargas, the Ventura County public health director, discussed the county’s updated COVID-19 metrics.

“We are trending in the wrong direction, we are trending upward,” stated Vargas.

Ventura County reports 365 new cases and this adds to 17,014 total cases. Vargas also noted an increase in hospitalizations, but no new deaths were reported. COVID-19 testing has increased and 2,722 new people were tested on Nov. 18.

Ventura County case rate as of Nov. 10.
Ventura County case rate as of Nov. 10.

The county’s seven-day average positive case rate per 100,000 residents is 13.3 cases, which qualifies Ventura as a purple tier county. To reach the red tier, the county must maintain a positive case rate of fewer than seven cases.

Vargas noted that the county’s testing volume is increasing with an average of 404 daily tests per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average.

“The COVID-19 spread is occurring in every single zip code. All the [Ventura County] zip codes are experiencing an increase in the case rate and positivity rate,” Vargas explained.

Vargas also discussed the COVID-19 cases amongst the vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens older than 65 years old, residents with underlying health conditions and healthcare workers.

As of Nov. 18, Ventura County residents with pre-existing health conditions have the most COVID-19 cases in the vulnerable demographic with 3,084 positive cases.

“While it’s concerning to have this trend, we will flatten the curve. The sooner that we can do that, the better we’ll all be with regard to reopening businesses,” said Vargas. “And the sooner that our children’s schools can open.”

Ventura County Health Care Agency’s Chief Director Barry Zimmerman thanked residents for participating in COVID-19 tests.

At the Ventura County Fairgrounds, the county’s largest COVID-19 testing site, over 1,400 individuals were tested in one day and this was the county’s highest testing volume conducted in a single day.

Moorpark College also has a COVID-19 testing site and had long wait times of two to three hours on Nov. 17.

However, Zimmerman noted that the county provided more resources and have increased the number of drive-thru lanes to decrease the wait time on Nov. 18. This testing site is expected to increase to six drive-thru lanes in the coming weeks.

Ventura County is also planning to distribute at-home COVID-19 tests at their testing sites for more convenient testing means.

Zimmerman also stated that COVID-19 testing sites will be closed on Thanksgiving, but will be available throughout the week. Zimmerman encouraged all residents to utilize the free testing centers throughout the county that provide fast results.

“On average we’ve been receiving tests within 24 hours. Even with the increased volume, we are still having prompt returns on our tests,” Zimmerman remarked.

Ventura County Health Care Agency’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Todd Flosi noted that the county had 22 hospitalized patients on Oct. 25 and now this has increased to 54 hospitalizations as of Nov. 18.

“That is a rapid increase that should be worrisome to you, it’s worrisome to us and none of us want to see that number continue [to increase],” said Flosi.

Flosi urged all Ventura County residents to get tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, congestion and nausea. Flosi also warned that testing is important for those not experiencing symptoms, as the two days before experiencing symptoms is the greatest period for spreading COVID-19.

“Why would you want to get tested when you are not having one of those symptoms? Well, we found out —and this is unfortunate— but [with] many viruses, you begin to shed the virus before you feel ill. With COVID-19, the highest infectious period is in the two days prior to the onset of any of the symptoms,” stated Flosi.

For more information about Ventura County’s COVID-19 updates, visit https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/.