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The Battle to Normality


Last updated 6/1/2020 at 12:41pm

So it begins…

The road ahead is a long and bumpy one, but with recent developments, it looks like we are headed in the right direction. There is no telling when we will get to some sort of normality, but there is still hope through the misery we are all facing as the world continues to change because of COVID-19.

It is not to be confused that the orders have been lifted, but instead, modifications have been made to ease into reopening.

Governor Gavin Newsom approved the San Diego County Board of Supervisors plan, which called for moving further into Phase 2 in the late evening of May 20.

The accelerated plan allows for restaurants to offer dine-in service and retail to allow for in-store shopping, which is actually in Newsom’s Phase 3. However, businesses must complete a reopening plan and submit it to the county, and must be provided to all employees and posted on the outside of the business, which can be found on the CDC website at:

County officials have made a guideline and checklist all restaurants must follow, which include that restaurant-goers must practice social distancing and wear masks at all times when they’re not seated at a table. Tables must be six-feet apart or offer a barrier if not movable. There is to be no more self-service buffets or machines, condiment bottles, salt and pepper shakers or breadbaskets.

The County says this accelerated reopenings are now possible under the states new criteria:

- Counties cannot have more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents or no higher than an 8% positive rate among people tested for COVID-19;

- Hospitalizations cannot see a more than 5% increase over seven days on average or must have fewer than 20 hospitalizations over 14 days;

- Have the capacity to test 1.5 per every 1,000 residents and at least 15 staff per 100,000 county population trained and available for contact tracing;

- Have hospital capacity for a possible surge of 35% of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 cases in addition to providing usual care for other patients.

Businesses have been suffering and there is not much they can do, especially for a town who relies a lot on tourism and visitors during the season. After the approval of the accelerated plan by Newsom, the town of Borrego Springs has fully taken advantage of this, opening more and more of its doors, with modifications, of course, to better serve the community in a safe manner, all the while protecting its valued employees.

“We need to successfully implement stage 2, we need to allow our business to open, we need to allow customers the opportunity to get out in the adaptive environment, we need to monitor our public health data, and we need to responsibly move throughout reopening phases,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

The following are a few establishments who have reopened with modifications.

Christmas Circle, which closed on April 1, was reopened on May 22 at 8 a.m. for use once again.

La Casa Del Zorro celebrated its reopening on May 15 by waiving resort fees, and welcomed guests. They have implemented more protocols as they move forward. Their Bistro is open, and alcohol is available for purchase.

ABDNHA and Borrego Outfitters reopened for in-store shopping.

Rams Hill Golf Club reopened on May 1, as planned, and have added protocols throughout the course.

Carlee’s is open for in-seat dining, as well as still offering delivery and curbside pickup of their entire menu.

Owner Andy Macuga is also still doing grocery orders at this time.

Borrego Springs Post Office added senior hours every Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Borrego Springs has been fortunate to only have three known confirmed cases, with one recovery.

The third individual made it known to the community on May 19 via Facebook, relinquishing anonymity. The person was helpful in lending a helping hand to those in the community during this hectic time.

The person found out they contracted the virus, even without showing any symptoms, after taking a test at the Borrego Medical Clinic’s three-day drive-thru site.

About 150 tests were done over the span of three days by the Clinic at The Mall. The results have not been released to the community, and by looking at the County website, it has not yet been inputted.

As part of efforts to expand COVID-19 testing, the County will open sites in rural communities and other areas of the region. New locations will be staffed with first responders from CAL FIRE and the San Diego County Fire Authority.

Testing will be set up outside several County Library branches throughout the region’s backcountry. It has not been said how many tests will be conducted.

“San Diego County is vast covering over 4,500 miles, which is why it’s so important to make testing available in our rural areas, like Valley Center and Borrego Springs,” said District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond. “In order to get more people back to work and overcome the virus, we need to provide an ample amount of testing for all San Diegans.”

The drive-up testing site will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Borrego Springs Library. To make an appointment, call 211.

“Partnering to protect our communities is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19,” says CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire Authority Chief Tony Mecham. “We are committed to working with our county health department to ensure all San Diego County residents, including those in the rural communities, are as safe as possible.”

There are currently 6,434 cases in San Diego County, with 242 deaths.

In California, there have been 88,736 confirmed cases, with 3,634 deaths, and 1,634,743 in the United States with 97,182 deaths.

Despite moving forward into Phase 2, Public Health Officials urge people not to forget that the orders are still in effect, including the mask requirement.

Newsom estimates 53 of the 58 counties meet the requirements of moving further into Phase 2. So far, 44 counties have moved into accelerated Phase 2.

County Board of Supervisors are also still awaiting review of the pilot program to move forward to Phase 3. In the likelihood of being reviewed, it possibly has taken place after this issue went to print, May 22, 4 p.m.

If approved, it could allow for the reopening of certain facilities:

Research labs,

- Therapeutic and peer support groups (individual therapy and support groups less than 10 people),

- Modified youth sports/clubs,

- Salons (appointment only and at 25% capacity),

- Fitness facilities (appointment only and at 25% capacity),

- HOA/apartments/condominium pools (at 25% capacity), and

- Outdoor religious services

Supervisors Greg Cox, Kristin Gaspar, Dianne Jacob, and Jim Desmond voted in favor of the plan, while Supervisor Nathan Fletcher voted against the pilot program.

“Governor Newsom has said he believes we will be ready to move into “Stage 3” at the beginning of June. I believe a wiser course of action is to fully and safely implement “Stage 2,” monitor any impact of our public health situation, and prepare for successful implementation of “Stage 3” in the coming weeks,” Fletcher wrote in a release.

However, no County at this time is able to move on to Phase 3 until it is proven that Phase 2 did not have a significant impact on coronavirus numbers.

We must thank those establishments doing their best in following protocols, making adjustments not just for their employees, but those visiting. However, many ponder the question, “Is it safe?” It is understandable that all want to get back out there, going shopping or having a nice sit-down lunch or dinner, not having to worry about masks or being infected, but can we?

Everyone is pushing to find some sort of normal. It may not be what we are used to, but it might become the new normal for some time. Who knows?

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