Riverside County death toll higher than 17 states… and our Supervisors have a plan to make it worse

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By Darrell Peeden, Moreno Valley Unified School Board Vice President

You can’t operate a business without humans – yet. So, why are the Riverside County Board of Supervisors putting workers’ lives at risk for short-term economic gain they can’t even guarantee will materialize?

That’s right. Our Supervisors are taking a page out of Georgia’s playbook and breaking with the most basic of recommendations by medical experts – no facemasks, no social distancing, and sending our kids back to school in the midst of an uncontained, uncontrolled, and highly contagious pandemic. The responsible choice would be a methodical and scientific approach to lifting these guidelines. Instead, our Supervisors are willing to disrespect the sacrifice we have all made the last two months because their donors are getting antsy.  

This is typical Riverside County politics. Do what your corporate campaign donors say, regardless of the body count. As of 11 p.m. Friday night, that number stands at 156 of our neighbors lost, 85 more fighting for their lives in intensive care units, and 4079 afflicted by COVID-19.

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Riverside County has the second highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in California. Our death toll is higher than that of 17 states. Think about that for a moment. 

These politicians are chomping at the bit to put our lives at risk so they can please their corporate campaign donors – the likes of whom have donated seven-figures to their campaigns in recent years. We’ve seen this plotline before. Why are Riverside County officials always trying to live out their House of Cards fantasies at the expense of our communities? It’s called political pressure. This is when we will see who’s willing to sacrifice their constituents’ lives in order to pad their reelection bank account. 

Do your jobs. Serve the people, not corporations, you represent. These are actual people clinging to life with the help of a ventilator and a team of healthcare workers. So no, Supervisor Hewitt, this isn’t a metaphor. It’s real life. Human life. And these lives are not less important than profit margins. And it’s happening in Riverside County at rates higher than almost anywhere else in California. 

The fact is, this proposal to rescind the county health orders is partisan at best. Not based on whether you lean left or right, though. This is about those who can afford the risk and those who can’t. Here’s the bottom line – if this proposal passes, it will only lead to more harm for the communities already suffering the worst: communities of color, those with pre-existing conditions, and seniors. 

There are record unemployment numbers and many Californians have yet to receive any assistance. People don’t have disposable income right now. They’re trying to keep their families fed and heads above water. Money is not moving in the economy. Small businesses do need more help, but using them as a trojan horse for gaining political capital and unnecessary bailouts for large corporations is a disservice to small business owners and the communities they serve. The health of Californians will be the true cost of this dangerous proposal. 

Our policy makers should not be so quick to choose profits over people. Our county health orders need to remain in place until there is consensus within the health community and there is a community-centric and data-based plan on what a post COVID-19 economy looks like in Riverside County. This is not the time for selfish political agendas. It’s time for bold, progressive policies that put people before profits.   

Darrell Peeden was elected to represent the Moreno Valley Unified School District’s Trustee Area 5 in 2018.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization.

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