OCBC Government Affairs Committee Recap: OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District, and U.S. Representative Mike Levin, (D-CA)
OCBC’s Government Affairs meeting on Friday, June 5 featured elected officials including OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District, and U.S. Representative Mike Levin, (D-CA), who offered perspectives on Orange County’s economic health and the COVID-19 crisis.
Supervisor Bartlett shared that Orange County’s efforts to flatten the curve is succeeding. The percentage of community transmission is low, which leaves local hospitals and ICU beds with plenty of capacity. Currently, Orange County has the capability to administrate COVID-19 testing for up to 9,000 individuals per day. Anyone who wants or should be tested can receive free testing through various locations such as Hoag Hospital, Mission Hospital, and drive-thru testing sites across the county. In addition to COVID-19 testing, the county is working to put together an accelerated test for COVID-19 antibodies, which will determine if the individual has previously had it or has developed an immunity.
Supervisor Bartlett also reviewed “Project Room Key”, a county program that has been put in place to address housing for the homeless population. On the program, she shared that there is plenty of capacity, and there are no current COVID-19 outbreaks among the homeless population.
As Orange County enters into the tourism season, the economy needs to be opened back up. Stimulating the economy with tourists with activities such as Disneyland, beaches, retail shopping, and in-person dining will be vital. “Tourism is so key for our county,” Supervisor Bartlett said.“Tourists will come regardless and they need to have something to do.”
In addition, U.S. Representative Mike Levin provided an overview that this week, the Congressional Black Caucus has had a dialogue on reforming criminal justice for broad and diverse groups, which include peace officers. In addition, an $8 billion bill has been introduced to accelerate the development of a vaccine for COVID-19.
Levin pointed out that there are five companies leading the way for a COVID-19 vaccine. While SoCal has played a huge role in COVID-19 diagnostics and therapies. OC needs to continue to meet this moment and administer tests to the high-risk areas such as nursing homes, jails, and meat and food processing factories.
Currently, Orange County’s unemployment rate is in the double digits, with 42% of jobs not making a swift return. OC will enter into a multi-year recovery with $8 trillion short terms and $15.7 billion long terms. While bipartisan action has helped to create opportunities to grow jobs, OC will need to keep going to create economic recovery. “The cost of inaction is worse than the cost of what we must do to recover of what are the incredible crossroads in our history,” Rep. Levin said.