Last week, the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Governor Newsom advocating for the safe, efficient reopening of industries in our County. The letter urged the Governor to reexamine the metrics that determine where a county sits on the County Risk Level tier system, and specifically mentioned the number of positive cases being inflated by the cases from individuals who are in prison.
Read the full letter below:
Dear Governor Newsom:
The Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce, representing over 600 businesses and thousands of employees, fights to protect and promote business in Simi Valley. More than 80% of the businesses represented employ fewer than 10 employees, and 95% of these businesses have been forced to alter their business practices, reduce their operations, or forced to close entirely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We appreciate your efforts to protect the health and safety of Californians to slow the spread of the COVID-19. However, the related shutdowns and the dimmer switch approach have many small businesses hanging by a thread, if they have not already permanently shut their doors.
We were hopeful that the Blueprint for a Safe Economy and the four tiers announced in late August would provide some relief to these businesses, but the reality is that many of these businesses are struggling even more and feel as though there is no possibility of reopening their doors any time soon.
The metrics that are being assessed to determine a county’s risk level are inconsistent, at best. In Ventura County, our positivity rate has consistently been in the Moderate (Orange) level since the new evaluation metrics were released. However, our county continues to sit in the Widespread (purple) tier due to our adjusted cases sitting slightly above 7. One major factor adding to this higher number of adjusted cases is the number of positive cases among prisoners.
We don’t believe that positive cases among prisoners should be counted toward the adjusted positive cases that factor into the county risk level metrics. As we understand many of these individuals are not from Ventura County. Additionally, these individuals are isolated and not out in our communities spreading the virus. If this group could be removed from the numbers, we believe our County would be able to move closer towards safely reopening our businesses.
To add insult to injury, the smoke from the wildfires that have overwhelmed much of California combined with the extreme heat we have been experiencing has had an even more devastating impact on these business trying to survive and run their indoor business outdoors. It would be a healthier environment for individuals to exercise or enjoy a meal indoors while distanced than by sitting outside surrounded by excessive heat or wildfire smoke.
The affected businesses in Simi Valley have worked diligently to refit their indoor operations to meet California Department of Public Health (CDPH) industry guidance. Over these past seven months they have shown remarkable resilience and have complied with the countless regulations which comes with a huge financial and emotional price tag. Many of these small business owners have already lost or significantly reduced their revenue stream, while their expenses remain the same or higher in many cases.
The struggles that our businesses are experiencing are not a result of anything they have done. This is of no fault of their own; in fact, many of these businesses were thriving prior to the pandemic. They need assistance to keep their doors open, and they need their government to work for them.
In closing, we urge you to reevaluate the adjusted positive cases less the positive cases from prisoners when assessing the county’s risk level. Our small businesses have worked hard to provide a safe, clean indoor environment for customers. They are the backbone of our state and local economies and they deserve to reopen their doors as they strictly comply with state guidelines.
Kathi Van Etten
President & CEO
Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce