CATHEDRAL CITY — A second group of desert Democrats is taking issue with the Riverside County Board of Supervisors May 8 unanimous vote to relax existing healthcare restrictions intended to reduce the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

In a statement Monday morning, the Democrats of the Desert’s Board of Director members said they are “shocked, saddened and scared” by decision.

Over the weekend, Miguel Navarro, chair of Desert Stonewall Democrats, said the, group was “appalled” by Riverside County Board of Supervisors’ vote, “It as an irresponsible and careless decision that threatens the general public, workers, and our long hard path back to economic recovery,” according to Navarro.

The Supervisors’ decision overrules Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s orders that everyone, including essential workers, wear masks when leaving home, and practice social distancing, according to the statement Dori Smith, president of Democrats of the Desert, said in a statement.

Democrats of the Desert strongly urges the Supervisors to reconsider their decision and to follow stricter guidelines, including those put forth by Governor Newsom.

Because COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, Democrats of the Desert recommends that all Coachella Valley residents and visitors continue what has been in practice since mid-March: social isolation, wearing masks, and washing hands. The CDC emphasizes ways to protect yourself and others. You may read them by clicking here. 

Democrats 'Shocked' at Supervisor Votes

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, board chair

“We represent more around 350 Democrats in our area, and most of them are over 60,” Smith said.  “We feel really let down by Board of Supervisor’s Chair Manuel Perez’s decision to vote to rescind the health orders.

“Why would we throw away our hard work to mitigate the virus since mid-March? It’s like cutting off the water to a fire hose while the house is still burning down,” Smith said. “In extreme, it appears that our county leadership is willing to trade deaths for dollars.”

“It’s not at all clear that the economy will go back to ‘business as usual’ when the virus is still dangerous because many will continue to stay home, and workers will get sick and die,” Smith said in her statement.

It seems that special interests and greed are pushing leaders to reopen the economy too soon, no matter the number of future COVID-19 cases and deaths, Smith said.

“Unfortunately, the Supervisors’ vote seems to be saying to Valley residents, especially those most vulnerable:  Seniors don’t matter. People with HIV don’t matter. People with lung disease don’t matter. Disabled people with chronic illnesses don’t matter. And, now that we know about a new COVID syndrome that hits children, do children matter?”

The new syndrome that has killed three children in New York was reported by The New York Times:  “The syndrome, a toxic-shock-like inflammation that affects the skin, the eyes, blood vessels and the heart, can leave children seriously ill, with some patients requiring mechanical ventilation.”

Numerous health experts around the country, including our U.S. Representative Dr. Raul Ruiz, support the continued wearing of masks and social distancing, Smith said.

The Center for Disease Control’s original guidelines (and Governor Newsom’s) also call for a decrease of cases for 14 days before easing restrictions. Smith cited information from an infection-prevention expert at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center: “The virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example via speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this evidence, wearing a cloth facemask or covering in public places where social distancing can’t be observed will help reduce spread of the disease. For example, in a grocery store or on a bus, if you wear a facemask, you help protect those around you in case you cough or sneeze… Social distancing and taking precautions such as washing hands, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting surfaces frequently are also appropriate measures to avoid the spread of illness.”

The Democrats of the Desert Board members believe that Riverside County needs a careful plan, based on science, which Governor Newsom is providing. Smith said. “It would be a big mistake to lurch into a rushed reopening that will lead to more COVID-19 cases and more deaths.”


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