Ventura County reports 11 new coronavirus cases, adds restrictions on businesses

A woman wears a protective mask at a bus stop in downtown Ventura on March 30. Most businesses on Main Street are closed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Ventura County officials are reminding businesses to adhere to social distancing and safety measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The county reported 11 new cases of people testing positive for COVID-19 late Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 160. This includes 31 people who recovered and 34 who were hospitalized. There are 124 cases under active quarantine and 2,987 people have been tested.

So far, five people in the county have died from the virus. All of them were in their 70s or 80s and had preexisting medical conditions. The county has not specified where they lived.

Sixty-five people between the ages of 45 and 64 have contracted the illness, making up the largest age group, and people over 65 account for 42 cases. Thousand Oaks has reported the most cases of COVID-19 in the region, with 33.

On Tuesday, the county issued another order that placed additional restrictions on essential businesses, which include grocery stores and restaurants, including on what they can sell and how it is packaged. Food must be covered, and the sale of items like clothing, jewelry and sporting goods is prohibited to avoid attracting crowds.

The new order was issued by Dr. Robert Levin, the county public health officer, to address confusion about what businesses are allowed to do, county spokeswoman Ashley Bautista said. Violators will be warned before any closures are ordered, she said.

“The goal here is to really work together in a more unified fashion” with the community, Bautista said.

Violating the new order, which expires April 19, is a misdemeanor.

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The new order also forbids long-term care facilities from refusing to admit someone who has been diagnosed with or treated for COVID-19 after they’re released from the hospital and approved for admittance by the county health department.

Levin gave a stark warning at a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday that if proper steps weren’t taken to stop the spread, as many as 1,000 people in the county could die from COVID-19.

On Wednesday, California Lutheran University President Chris Kimball informed students, staff and faculty in an email that “a member of our university community” had tested positive for COVID-19. The private university in Thousand Oaks did not indicate whether the person is a student or staff member.

“There is no threat to our campus community, but I know that hearing that one of us has COVID-19 may add to the anxiety that all of us are experiencing,” Kimball said.

The individual started experiencing symptoms on March 23, nearly two weeks after visiting campus, and public health officials determined there was no risk of exposure, Kimball said. The notice was first reported by the Ventura County Star.

By 5 p.m. Thursday, most students will have returned home to continue their semester online. Sixty-seven students remain on campus, unable to return home, the school said.