State Starts Safe Reopening As Covid 19 Deaths Climb
By Dianne Anderson
Boxing is considered a contact sport, literally being up in someone’s face, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon at Project Fighting Chance.
Instead, some local teens will be keeping their distance at six feet apart, masking up with gloves on top of gloves in a workout space in a constant state of being wiped down and sanitized.
It’s all part of preparing for the next phase of the state’s slow reopening of non-essential businesses and facilities, including theaters, nail salons and gyms.
Terry Boykins, executive director of Project Fighting Chance, has been in touch with the Department of Behavioral Health and Department of Public Health to adhere to the guidelines for eventual re-opening with a safe regimen for his youth.
He is working with five elite boxers that are not implementing physical contact. The focus is to promote safety strategies for the Board on best practices in re-opening, while giving the youth an outlet to stay in shape.
“These guys are skilled in their respective sport. We have them spaced out in the gym. The bags have been identified that they can work on and there are places in the ring to keep a distance from each other,” said Boykins.
Facilities will hold tight to the protocol, and staff understands state physical distancing guidelines. The boys will be required to wear masks and put on latex gloves before their boxing gloves.
“There’s no contact with the actual glove from the body,” Boykins said. “They’ll be more workouts than physical sparring or contacts. They’ll be more focused on working on fitness and agility than competing.”
As the state keeps close watch on a hopeful flattening of the Covid 19 curve, some businesses and people are beginning to emerge from social isolation, mostly in line with the state’s guidelines.
Volunteers with Project Fighting Chance are also delivering food and services to the community.
At a time when everyone is feeling the emotional fallout of sheltering in place, Boykins said it’s important to get kids in an environment where they don’t feel so alone. A lot of his athletes are anxious.
But he adds that it is more than just getting out and blowing off steam. It’s a matter of economics.
A lot of Black and Brown parents have lost their jobs. Some youth may be lured to crime in the streets, looking for ways to make some money.
Recently, he heard one advertisement about making sure that sick people are quarantined with their own bathroom, which is impossible in low-income communities.
“They’re assuming everybody has a place to quarantine. Go to the west wing, room service will take care of it,” he said. “The information doesn’t consider a socioeconomic class that has a higher vulnerability and death rate.”
The program’s boxing and enrichment program offers strong community engagement to instill a sense of community pride in the youth.
Lately, they are delivering food to about 70 families per day for anyone who has a child in need of a meal. Much of it has been word of mouth, and referrals from other agencies.
The program also contracts with SBCUSD after school program as a CAPS provider, and they’re also geared up to replicate their Westside San Bernardino model for another program on the east side.
Boykins, CEO of Street Positive, has worked to raise awareness of family abuse and trauma for many years in the community. At this point, he believes the impact of Covid 19 is just scratching the surface of what’s to come.
“This is going to be playing out for a long time. We have not got started yet, at all,” he said.
Part of the state’s solution to limit the spread is hiring public health employees as contact tracers, which would backtrack the infected and all they’ve come in contact with.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom California announced in his COVID-19 briefing that the state is preparing to train an “army of disease detectives” in partnership with UC San Francisco. Tracers are employees of the health department.
He said more work is needed to address “testing deserts,” but they are starting to see progress as they press on logistics, face masks, and PPE.
“These counties that want to move into a deeper part of the second phase, have to do so in concurrence with their hospital system. In concurrence with their boards of supervisors in the counties and with all of these tough questions answered on testing, tracing and surge and protecting vulnerable communities before they move into the phase,” he said.
Riverside County is dealing with the highest Covid 19 cases for the Inland Empire.
Jose Arballo Jr., the spokesperson for the Riverside University Health System-Public Health, said currently they have 70 full-time paid contact tracers.
Arballo said that the state is rolling out statewide disease investigation and contact tracing software and they plan to use the software.
“We are expected to expand to 200-300 full-time contact tracers over the next several weeks. All are expected to be paid,” he said in an email, adding that the number may go up based on cases.
Financing may be available with CARES funding from the federal government, which helps pay for coronavirus-related costs.
“Riverside County has received the funding and will decide how it will be allocated,” he said.
The state website also addresses the racial disparities in Covid 19.
“California adults who are Black, Latino, or Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander have disproportionately more deaths for their share of the population. Structural racism, poverty and the increased likelihood of having underlying conditions, such as heart disease and asthma, are likely to contribute to this disparity,” the website says.
For resources and food help, see www.projectfightingchance.org
For information on San Bernardino Covid 19, see http://sbcovid19.com/
For Riverside, see https://rivcoph.org/coronavirus
To see California updated Covid 19 tracker, see