RivCo reaches 4,000 coronavirus cases

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Confirmed coronavirus cases in Riverside County passed the 4,000 mark today, with 89 new infections and six additional deaths announced by local health officials.

The case total now stands at 4,031 and the death toll at 149, according to the Riverside University Health System.

Of the 212 county residents who are hospitalized with COVID-19, 78 are being treated in intensive care units, unchanged from Wednesday. The number of documented recoveries increased by 137
to 1,483.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser on Wednesday extended the county’s emergency health order mandating social distancing practices and requiring face coverings for residents when outside their homes.

”For the immediate future, this is the new normal in Riverside County,” he said.

Kaiser’s previous health orders were due to expire Thursday, but he signed an amended directive with a few modifications, while keeping in place local mandates that are not required by the state, including the use of face coverings.

Health officials said the revised order is intended to align with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home executive order from March 19, which remains in effect for an undetermined period.

Kaiser’s revised directive also keeps the countywide shutdown mandate in place for all public and private schools, including colleges and universities, until June 19, meaning schools will continue to remain shuttered until at least the end of the current school year.

Kaiser stressed that face coverings in any setting, including wide open spaces or recreational sites, need to be utilized.

”People should be expected to live with them for awhile,” he said.

A key metric for gauging the prevalence of the virus — the so-called “doubling rate” when infections increase 100% over a set period — has now stretched to just over two weeks. Officials described the propagation threat as serious when it was every five days.

Earlier this month, RUHS officials were predicting up to 13,000 infections and 200 deaths by the start of next week, which current data suggest will not be reached.

”We’ve been having conversations with local leadership and businesses, and we hear the frustration and struggles and financial hardship and the need for economic recovery,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Manuel Perez said on Wednesday. “We know folks are ready to return to work.”

Perez pointed to the criteria announced Tuesday by Newsom for a “four-phase” reduction in state regulations to unchain the private sector from coronavirus restrictions as a major step forward, coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s multi-phase “Opening Up America Again” framework unveiled April 16.

All county residents are eligible for coronavirus screenings if they make appointments over the phone in advance at 800-945-6171.

So far, 50,305 people have been tested for the coronavirus in Riverside County.

The county is seeking to expand screening facilities, with new sites potentially opening in the San Gorgonio Pass and the San Jacinto Valley, joining sites already in operation in Indio, Lake Elsinore, Perris and
Riverside.