Orange County: Demand the Board of Supervisors close our beaches to help shut down COVID19

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April 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors - Michelle Steel, Andrew Do, Donald P. Wagner, Doug Chaffee, and Lisa Bartlett:

To minimize the risks to public health due to the Novel Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19), we urge you to endorse and enforce the following safety measures, most of which are also strongly recommended by California State officials:

  • California’s State-wide, Stay-At-Home closure policies—including but not limited to all metered parking spots at local beaches and recreational areas;
  • Orange County Health Officer’s Order, which temporarily bans all public gatherings, with specifically noted exceptions (Emergency Regulations, dated March 17, 2020);
  • CDC safety guidelines and precautions;
  • and Closure of all County parks, beaches, and recreational facilities.

We are concerned residents and community leaders from across Orange County, giving voice to our grave concerns about the imminent risk of mass protests and other unrestricted gatherings at our local beaches and recreational areas, which will exponentially increase everyone’s risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Whether these dangerous behaviors occur at impromptu activities or orchestrated events, they are happening in direct defiance of the Governor's Stay-At-Home order. It’s not unreasonable to assume that these violations follow on the heels of your April 21, 2020 decision to reopen a partial list of our County-owned beaches, golf courses, and parks. Public confusion, and perhaps rebellion, is a natural byproduct of inconsistent rule enforcement. Irrespective of the root cause, scientific data suggests that swift action must be taken, to reduce any further threats to the health of all Orange County residents.

We commend local officials who have made the difficult but responsible decision to deny access to all metered parking along PCH and to restrict access to our beaches and recreational areas. We may be a long way from reopening, but in the meantime, we strongly encourage the Board of Supervisors to follow their lead by: implementing County-wide closures of all beaches and recreational spaces; encouraging every municipality to adhere to CDC Guidelines; and aligning all policy decisions with our Governor’s stated criteria. 

These requests are supported by a survey released on April 24 by the California Health Care Foundation that shows 75% of Californians agree with the Stay-At-Home order for a longer period of time. 1  Our concerns were therefore heightened by the abrupt resignation on April 23 of Orange County’s Deputy Health Care Agency Director, David Souleles, who was leading the County’s response to COVID-19. It is extremely worrisome that Mr. Soules resigned one day after presenting a preliminary plan for the eventual reopening of Orange County to the Board of Supervisors, just as the Supervisors chose to reject the Stay-at-Home orders issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom—and the guidelines from the CDC. 

Of additional, immediate concern to us is the alarming news of large-scale, nation-wide “May Day” protests. The organizers are targeting Huntington Beach, but this May 1, 2020 event will likely spill over into other coastal communities. Concurrently, we expect a seasonal influx of visitors to our beaches and other recreational spaces. The virus travels with all of them—not just to the seashore, but also to our gas stations, grocery stores, food (take-out) establishments, and the like—bringing with it the threat of a widespread outbreak. The potentially devastating effects of this reckless behavior will not be limited to Orange County.  Left unchecked, COVID-19 will spread like wildfire, infecting the most vulnerable members of our communities and crippling our local and State-wide economies.

We are asking for all of this out of concern for our families and neighbors. We are insisting because not doing so will risk the lives of our fellow Californians and extend the period of struggle for our already embattled economy.

Sincerely,

Ahmad Zhara - City Council Member, City of Fullerton CA

Alan R. Schenk, M.D., FACP - Medical Doctor, City of Laguna Niguel

Andrea Marr - City Council Member, City of Costa Mesa

Arlis Reynolds - City Council Member, City of Costa Mesa

Beth Krom - Former Mayor, City of Irvine

Brooklyn Bui - Orange County Community College Administrator

David N. Young - Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, City of Fountain Valley

Debra Brooks - Santiago Canyon College Geology Professor, retired

Diane Vincent - Admin. Sec., Rancho Santiago Comm College

Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen - City Council Member, City of Garden Grove

Donald Craig - Former President, Orange County Chapter of NAACP

Donald Forthal, MD - Professor of Medicine and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, UC Irvine Schools of Medicine and Biological Sciences

Dr. Fred Calhoun - President, OC Chapter of NAACP

Dr. Kathleen Treseder - Professor of Biology, University of California Irvine

Farrah Khan - City Council Member, City of Irvine

Felicity Figueroa - Co-Chair, Orange County Equality Coalition

Gina Clayton-Tarvin - President, Ocean View School District Board of Trustees

Joel Berman - Rabbi, Temple Beth Emet 

Jordan Brandman - City Council Member, City of Anaheim CA

Jose Moreno - City Council Member, City of Anaheim CA

Joy Brenner - City Council Member, City of Newport Beach

Judy Curry - President, Women for Orange County 

Kelvin Leeds - Professor, Santa Ana College, City of Santa Ana

Kim Nguyen - City Council Member, City of Garden Grove

Kris Erickson - Board Member, Orange Unified School District

K'vod Wieder - Rabbi, Temple Beth El of South Orange County

Letitia Clark - Mayor Pro Tem, City of Tustin

Manuel Chavez - City Council Member, City of Costa Mesa

Naz Hamid - Co-chairs, Asian Americans in Action

Paolo Magcalas - School Board Member, City of Anaheim

Pastor Ken Wyant

Patty Yoo - Co-chairs, Asian Americans in Action

Rabbi Arnold Rachlis - University Synagogue, City of Irvine

Rabbi Corie Yutkin - City of Irvine

Rabbi Elie Spitz - Rabbi, City of Tustin

Rabbi Jill Zimmerman - Rabbi, Laguna Woods

Rabbi Karen Sherman - Congregation B’nai Tzedek, City of Fountain Valley

Rabbi Stephen Einstein - Founding Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation B'nai Tzedek, City of Fountain Valley

Rev. Sarah Averette-Phillips - Brea Congregational Church, City of Brea

Rev. Sarah Halverson-Cano - Fairview Community Church, City of Costa Mesa

Samila Amanyraoufpoor - International Business Professor at CalState Los Angeles,  from Irvine

Sharon Quirk-Silva - Assemblywoman, District 65

Shirley Dettloff - Former Mayor, City of Huntington Beach

Sudi Farokhnia - Iranian Circle of Women's Intercultural Network

Susan Shahidi - International Society of Children with Cancer

Tammy Kim - Finance Commissioner, City of Irvine

Tiffany Ackley - Mayor Pro Tem, City of Aliso Viejo CA

Valerie Amezcua - Board Member, Santa Ana Unified School District

Vince Sarmiento - City Council Member, City of Santa Ana

Walter Muneton - Board Member, Garden Grove Unified School District

Aaron McCall -Resident of Costa Mesa, California

Andy J. Lewandowski - Resident of Anaheim, California

Faye Hezar - Resident of Newport Beach, California

Laura Kanter - Resident of Santa Ana, California

Lulu Hammad - Resident of Aliso Viejo, California

Maria Olivieri Minney - Resident of Irvine, California

Mary Kyle - Resident of Huntington Beach, California

Melodye Shore - Resident of Laguna Niguel, California

Pat Davis - Resident of Irvine, California

Shayna Lathus - Resident of Huntington Beach, California

Sheena Innocente - Resident of Tustin, California

Thomas Fielder - Resident of Anaheim, California

 

________________________________________[1] Alex Wigglesworth, Luke Money, Andrew J. Campa, “Article: Keep California stay-at-home order for as long as needed, vast majority say in new poll, San Diego Tribune” April 24, 2020

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/california/story/2020-04-24/keep-california-stay-at-home-order-for-as-long-as-needed-vast-majority-say-in-new-poll


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