County health officer orders cancellation of all public gatherings of more than 250 people

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A Riverside County health official on Thursday announced the cancellation of all public gatherings of more than 250 people in Riverside County amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

The order mirrors recommendations issued Wednesday evening by the California Department of Public Health, according to a statement from Riverside University Health System.

“These restrictions may seem harsh, given the relatively low number of coronavirus cases in Riverside County, but they are necessary if we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said in the statement.

Riverside County now has six confirmed cases in the Coachella Valley, as well as two additional cases from cruise ship passengers who reside in the county, for a total of eight confirmed cases. The cruise ship passengers are being treated in Northern California and have not returned to the region since their diagnosis.

Kaiser already declared a public health emergency on Sunday after announcing the county’s first locally-acquired COVID-19 case.

One of the Coachella Valley cases is considered to have been acquired through “community spread,” meaning health investigators haven’t determined the source of the infection.

“County health officials are working with local school, city and nonprofit organizations to provide guidelines on how the new restrictions will be implemented,” the Riverside University Health System statement said.

2:30 p.m.: This story was updated to indicate there are now eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Riverside County residents.