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County With 2nd Most COVID Deaths In CA Rescinds Pandemic Orders

Riverside County has the 2nd most COVID cases & deaths in California but its supervisors just voted to rescind public health orders
County With 2nd Most COVID Deaths In CA Rescinds Pandemic Orders
A patient is removed from Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside this month after more than three dozen residents tested positive for coronavirus and the nursing staff did not show up for work. Image from: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Riverside County has the 2nd most COVID cases & deaths in California but its supervisors just voted to rescind public health orders.

Here are the details from the Desert Sun. It’s outrageous. It’s should make your blood boil.

Maybe the supervisors forgot about the death of Deputy Terrell Young, 52, a 15-year veteran and the department’s first to die from COVID-19. He leaves behind his wife of 31 years and four children.

Perhaps they need to see the photo of David Werksman, 51, a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy who was with the department for 22 years. Better yet, the supervisors should hear from his wife and three children who are still alive.

(Left) David Werksman, 51, a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy Dead from COVID-19. Survived by his wife and three children. (Right) Deputy Terrell Young, 52, a 15-year veteran the department’s first to die from COVID-19. He leaves behind his wife of 31 years and four children.

Of course these deaths happened WAY back in April, so I guess they become just another number.
Here is the video of the procession of Werksman's funeral.

Do the supervisors need to know that this hits more than old people? Here’s the story of 21 year old Valeria Viveros, who worked as a nursing assistant at a skilled nursing facility that had an outbreak.

We can show the supervisors of the communities around Riverside the photos. We can show them the data that it’s not just olds and POC who are getting hit because gasp, *White People* are dying and that seems to make a difference to some.

Riverside County Department of Public Health

But the bottom line is that Riverside supervisors voted to rescind the state’s emergency orders. Why? Who are they really listening to? What are those people’s reasons?  And finally, if the people in the community and those around them agree this is a terrible, deadly decision, “What can be done?”

The friend who tipped me off to this story lives in Palm Springs, right in Riverside County. His question was, “How do I stop my city supervisors from doing what Riverside supervisors did?”

Sonia Angell, MD, MPH State Public Health Officer and Director California Department of Public Health
First they should know that lawful Executive Orders have been defied. Public health reopen guidelines in the state of California were ignored.  (See EO N-60-20, and Health and Safety Code sections 120125, 120140, 131080, 120130(c), 120135, 120145, 120175 and 120150, ) PDF Link signed by Sonia Y Angell, MD, MPH, State Public Health Officer and Director California Department of Public Health. Twitter: @DrSoniaAngell

The Riverside county supervisors couldn’t meet the Phase 2 reopen rules, so they should stay closed, instead Hewitt says they are "ridiculous." He wants to argue with Newsom about his models. He's putting pressure on this local public health official Dr. Cameron Kaiser, to ignore state orders.

From the Desert Sun article:

Supervisor Jeff Hewitt implored the supervisors to vote to lift all restrictions — including the state’s — immediately.
Regarding the county’s orders, he said he wanted to drop all COVID-related restrictions

Although he understood the state had threatened to withhold disaster funds from counties that have defied Newsom’s staged plan, Hewitt scoffed at his fellow supervisors’ plan to negotiate with Newsom on reopening criteria which he said, was pointless because of the governor’s cult of personality and need to be right.

Hewitt trusts that businesses would make decisions to protect their employees. Without any consequences?  He gives this BS libertarian answer why they would.

"They will do what they need to to attract the most customers,” he said of county businesses. “Even though I feel like I don’t need a mask — I don’t like a mask, that’s my personal choice — I’ll carry one around all the time because there’ll be a lot of businesses I want to go in that’ll require me to wear a mask.”

Well what if they want to attract COVID deniers? There’s lot’s of money in selling to rich idiots, but what about the non-idiots who have to breath the same air?

As I told my friend, some people can’t be convinced with photos of the dead, they need to be sanctioned. For the supervisors in Riverside, state public officials at the highest level need to make it clear what the consequences will be and who will they be directed at. Hewitt knows there will be consequences from the governor but says he's not afraid.

Riverside Supervisor Jeff Hewitt

When I listened to Hewitt during the supervisor meeting he revealed in general who is telling him what to do. Will he name them if asked? I've followed city and state politics for years. I understand how the behind the scenes pressure works. "Business groups" in cities are telling him they are "dying." But of course that is metaphorically since they aren't humans who ARE literally dying.

No, those business groups just don't have enough money and their solution is to open up. They put pressure on the locals because of the botched federal response to the economic problems. Their businesses didn't get hit with the money cannon. Their people didn't get enough money to stay home (or can't because of the type of work) Why aren't they attacking the President and the GOP congress for more money? Because they squeeze who they can squeeze.

It would be great if the media talked to these "business groups" so that the public can know exactly who is putting their profits before people’s lives. They are throwing their weight around at this level in this fashion because they know not to say their cruel calculus out loud.

The people in Riverside and surrounding communities won’t hear from the business owners with real power telling the supervisors what to do because they want to be behind the scenes. (BTW, aren't there some FOIA laws around supervisors' communications on official business?)

The company execs don’t want to take the heat from the public. They don’t want to have the head of the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside tell the family of the dead to call the CEO of "Business Group Inc." who is pushing to reopen. There will be no protests at "Business Group" because they keep their businesses out of the news. This is dark power at the local level.

Instead the public is led to believe a small group of people wearing flag shirts and Trump hats are the driving force convincing the supervisors to defy lawful orders to stop the spread of a deadly virus.

What happens when a business defy the rules? In Colorado the C&C Breakfast & Korean Kitchen in Castle Rock opened for Mother's Day against state orders. Gov. Jared Polis called the restaurant an "immediate health hazard," and suspended the restaurant's license. (Link)

Business "leaders" aren’t going to voluntarily face the anger of people in the community. They aren't going to go to the funerals of people who die because of their pressure on local elected officials. They expect Supervisor Jeff Hewitt to take the heat. Then if it is big enough they will tell the supervisors to back down.

As I said, some people need sanctions to come down on them hard, no amount of photos of dead people will change their minds. So contact the Governor's office and ask what is going to happen next. Contact Dr. Sonia Angell, the Director California Department of Public Health and ask how they will support Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the Riverside Public Health Officer in Riverside.

If you live in Riverside county here is a link to contact your supervisors
If you live in Palm Springs You need to tell your Mayor and your city council to not do what Riverside board of supervisors did.

If you are in these areas you need to use all the leverage you can. Legal, financial, medical and political. What tools do you have in your bag that can help stop COVID-19 from spreading due to the recklessness of one group of people? Contact multiple people who have various types of power.

And don't forget the theater for the media. They need visuals! Set up some interviews with the families of the dead, doctors and nurses in hospitals. Show us group photos of the 215 dead in Riverside. Maybe they can run them along side of the guy with a gun and the word "Triggered" on his shirt.


I couldn't find a group photo of Riverside residents so here are the photos of the 11 nuns in Michigan who died during the month of April.
11 Felician Sisters in Michigan who died during the month of April. Image from: Felician Sisters of North America

My final advice? Never underestimate the level of dickery and behind the scenes maneuvers that people will use to avoid responsibility for doing the wrong thing.

Be intense with your activism people. These are life and death decisions being made. Don't let them kill you, your friends and family.

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