County facilities close doors to public amid coronavirus concerns

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A number of Riverside County government offices were closed to the public today as part of the county’s effort to mitigate novel coronavirus exposure risks.
County CEO George Johnson, with the support of the Board of Supervisors, ordered multiple agencies to close their doors, with operations continuing under modified conditions.
“The important work of the county continues,” Johnson said. “Community members rely on the county for services, and we’re here for you. By restricting the number of in-person visits to county departments, we will reduce the exposure of novel coronavirus to employees and community members alike. These closures are necessary to … ensure the availability of our critical healthcare system.”
The closure order followed a decision by the District Attorney’s Office to scale back in-house operations, limiting public access to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, as courthouses countywide reduce operations.
Superior Court Presiding Judge John Vineyard on Tuesday directed that trials not already in progress be postponed at least two weeks from Monday, while some court services for the public, including small claims and traffic hearings, were also put off for up to two months.
The county buildings impacted by Johnson’s order generally do not include public safety facilities. Among the now publicly restricted or inaccessible locations are the County Administrative Center, the Economic Development Agency, the Department of Information Technology and the main and satellite offices operated by the Department of Public Social Services.
“This is an unprecedented time for all of us,” DPSS Director Sayori Baldwin said. “We are aligning our practices with recommendations from county, state and federal health officials to limit COVID-19 as best we can. We want to avoid spreading an illness that preys on our most vulnerable populations.”
Officials referenced county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s mandate limiting gatherings to less than 10 people at any one place and time to safeguard against viral transmission as the principal factor in implementing the closures.
Baldwin said most of DPSS’ clients will be able to access resources
online or via telephone. The agency is responsible for the distribution of
welfare and other government aid to the indigent, unemployed and other
recipients. DPSS also monitors and investigates foster and other dependent care
matters, as well as supervises In-Home Supportive Services workers who serve
the aged and disabled.
Baldwin acknowledged that some beneficiaries may not have access to electronic or telephonic means to access services, and limited exceptions will be made to permit face-to-face interactions with agency personnel to resolve those cases.
“We’re committed to serving those who need us. Our mission to serve the vulnerable won’t ever change,” she said.
Beneficiaries or applicants are encouraged to visit http://dpss.co.riverside.ca.us/self-sufficiency for more information or call 877-410-9928 for assistance.
Information on services specifically geared to the elderly, including meal deliveries, are asked to contact the Office on Aging at 800-510-2020 or 951-867-3800.
At the board meeting Tuesday, officials said some county employees would be allowed to telecommute or work under schedules that observe social distancing requirements.
County parks remain open, as do Department of Animal Services, Department of Probation and sheriff’s offices.