By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Intensifying its efforts to combat COVID-19 and diminish spread of the coronavirus, the County is implementing a COVID-19 Compliance Education/Engagement/Enforcement (EEE) Plan in coordination with local cities. The new campaign is designed to encourage compliance with federal, state and County public health mandates.
“Our County remains on the state’s Monitoring List, which restricts our ability to continue reopening our economy or allow schools to provide in-person instruction,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “Getting off the list requires us to show tangible success in reducing new positive cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions — and that requires strict compliance with various public health mandates.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the creation of Strike Teams comprising 10 state agencies working in conjunction with local officials. The Strike Teams, which are focusing on businesses that continue to defy safety mandates, include such agencies as the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the California Highway Patrol. The Education, Engagement & Enforcement Plan was established to support these Strike Teams.
“Our primary emphasis is on educating high-risk businesses about the critical need to comply with these directives, while offering guidance to assist them in these efforts,” Hagman said. “That includes engaging with business owners to make sure they’re aware of the resources we’ve made available. We prefer to avoid punitive actions but will have no other choice if businesses continue to disregard public health ordinances.”
Initial focus on high-risk operations
The plan’s initial focus will be on identifying high-risk businesses such as bars, restaurants and gyms; the County will also respond to citizen reports of companies flouting public health mandates. The County will work with cities to coordinate efforts and share lists of these businesses, while allowing cities to take the lead in contacting businesses within their borders.
The County Fire Marshal and County Environmental Health Services Division will field a team of 30 inspectors who will be tasked with visiting businesses, confirm reported violations, and offer assistance to help them come into compliance. They will also share details of the industry guidelines developed by the state and encourage them to participate in the County’s COVID-Compliant Business Partnership Program.
Enforcement as a last resort
Businesses that continue to operate while ignoring public health requirements will be reported to the state Strike Team and/or local authorities for follow-up. Business owners or residents interested in reviewing the details can find a PDF of the EEE Plan on this webpage within the County’s COVID-19 website.
“Since our initial response to the pandemic, our goal has been to gain voluntary compliance from County businesses and residents, many of whom have suffered from COVID-19 and the resulting economic lockdowns,” said Sheriff John McMahon. “We want to help them survive and prosper — while doing everything possible to halt the spread of this disease. But we need their cooperation if we are to succeed in this effort.”