New orders handed down from state, COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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Containers for coronavirus nose swab tests are arranged for use before sending off for results. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

New orders coming down from the state level Monday, June 13, furthered fears that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. The new orders followed a week that saw record daily new cases reported by Riverside University Health System day after day, confirming those fears.

In an effort to protect employees and residents, several local municipalities either kept their office closed or reclosed their offices to the public, including the county of Riverside and cities of Temecula, Menifee, Murrieta and Lake Elsinore.

Hours after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an executive order directing that indoor activity in gyms, hair salons, houses of worship, malls and non-critical offices be stopped Monday, the county announced that 983 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the weekend and 13 more residents died.

Locally, the city of Temecula and the community of French Valley each reported deaths for the first time since the county began recording data for the virus.

Newsom’s order affects all 30 counties on the state’s pandemic monitoring list – including Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

“This virus is not going away anytime soon,” the governor said. “We’re seeing an increase in the spread of the virus.”

The state has documented record numbers of infections in recent days, along with increasing hospitalizations. As of Monday, Newsom said 6,485 were hospitalized across the state due to the coronavirus. A total of 7,017 deaths statewide have been attributed to the virus, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The new order, which is expected to be in place for the next three weeks, was placed on top of a July 1 order that banned indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, family entertainment centers, cardrooms, theaters and museums.

Newsom’s Monday announcement drew the ire of a civil liberties law group out of Murrieta representing churches in Riverside County that lambasted Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order.

“The state’s actions (Monday) impose another significant setback to the desperately needed social services that are provided by religious organizations,” attorney Robert Tyler with Murrieta-based Advocates for Faith & Freedom, said. “We have (a) mental health crisis that is just as significant as COVID-19. Many churches and synagogues will now be forced to shutter their support groups, counseling and humanitarian relief.

“Now, the state says religious organizations in 80% of the state must meet outdoors, if at all, and gave discretion for local government to issue greater restrictions on outdoor meetings. Is a worship service any less protected under the First Amendment than a protest? Are the social services provided by a church any less important than those provided through a government office? No.

“The freedom of worship is of paramount importance, and we will support churches who provide services as their faith sincerely dictates, so long as they do not provide their services recklessly. We encourage religious leaders to stand on principle, serve their community and worship God in the manner dictated by their faith,” Tyler said.

So far, according to Riverside County Public Health officials, 25,748 have tested positive for the virus with 292 new cases logged Saturday, 469 on Sunday and 222 on Monday. In all, 550 people have died from the virus.

On Monday, there were 15 fewer people hospitalized with the virus since Friday, for a new total of 511 hospitalizations. The county reported 139 of those patients were in intensive care units, 23 more than before the weekend started.

Overall, 9,711 people have recovered from the virus, exactly 1,000 more than the Monday before, and so far, the county has tested 289,362 residents for the virus, 12,728 over the weekend.

Menifee saw the highest number of new cases Monday, with 30 more than reported over the weekend and 522 cases overall. The city has also suffered seven deaths overall.

Temecula suffered its first death from the virus and added 20 cases over the weekend for a total of 440. Murrieta added 24 (497), Wildomar added 13 (211), Lake Elsinore added 19 new cases (469), Canyon Lake added one new case (26), Hemet added 15 new cases (644) and San Jacinto added 13 (452).

One more person in Hemet and Murrieta died over the weekend due to the virus.

In local communities, Anza saw one new case (seven), East Hemet added four new cases (123), French Valley added eight new cases (139), Lakeland Village added two (75), Valle Vista added two (85), and Winchester added one more case (three).

East Hemet has lost two residents, and Lakeland Village has also lost one resident total to the virus.

The county reported that there were 259 confirmed cases in county jails and another 1,156 cases recorded in state prisons within the county. Both numbers indicated minimal growth.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.