Ventura County looks ahead to the red tier with in-house dining, increased vaccine eligibility and rent relief program


Ventura County COVID-19 news from Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

By Andrea Lopez

On Wednesday, the county provided positive news at the COVID-19 press conference, which was held at Las Islas in Center Point Mall, one of the main vaccination sites.

As the county begins to prepare moving into the red tier, more resources are being made available to help the economy return after the rollercoaster the pandemic has brought forth.

Red tier will resume in-house dining at 25% capacity, as well as indoor fitness centers and movie theaters. Malls can reopen at 50% capacity.

While cases have begun to decrease, “the virus is still out there looking to hurt us and it is still hurting us, so please don’t let your guard down,” Ventura County Board of Supervisors, Carmen Ramirez ensured.

As of March 10, 24.8% of Ventura County residents have been administered a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 240,000 doses have been given out, according to County Executive Officer, Mike Powers.

Schools in grades K-6 have been returning to in-person learning since the end of February, which has opened the current tier for teachers to be vaccinated.

“Our goal was to vaccinate all educators by the end of the month of March, and we are well on track to meet that goal,” Powers said.

14,500 appointments are made available every Monday at 7 a.m. for the seven vaccination sites. The website “will tell you which vaccines are available at which site and you can select in your appointment which vaccine you want,” Powers shared.

It is strongly encouraged to pre-register for an appointment as the county will start allowing individuals ages 16 to 64, with certain medical conditions, to be administered the COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 15.

Individuals who are 16 to 64 years old and have a medical condition will be required a doctors certified letter to be eligible for the vaccine.

“A doctor can submit (the letter) which way they want, on a notepad, prescription pad, electronically as well,” explained Powers.

Powers also discussed the economic impact the county has encountered and the rent relief program becoming available for Ventura County residents.

The program offers 52 million dollars in rental assistance to help those in need in our community. The date to register for the program is March 15.

“Tenants can apply for 25% past due rent from April of 2020 to March of 2021,” Powers said. That will also extend evictions through June 30.

Landlords who have been affected by the pandemic can apply to be “reimbursed up to 80% of unpaid rent,” Powers continued.

The Board of Supervisors aided a second round of business grants of 20 million dollars for restaurants. Struggling businesses with less than 2.5 million in gross revenue may apply for grants of $5,000.

Preregistration for the grants is open from March 24 to March 30.

The application window is strictly opened for one week only beginning March 31 to April 6. Grant awards are expected to be made April 30 to May 31.

As of March 12, there were 108 new positive COVID-19 cases with eight additional deaths. Current hospitalizations remain at 63, with 21 currently in ICU, according to Ventura County Recover’s website.

“Reminder how serious COVID-19 still is, (the ICU patients) in the hospital are on ventilators literally clinging onto life,” Public Health Director, Rigoberto Vargas reminded.

The county’s case rate has dropped from 10.6 to 9.1 which will place Ventura County into red tier as early as next Wednesday.

“Please lookup, refresh your understanding of what is allowed in the red tier because we are that close to entering formally the red tier,” Vargas said.