RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Riverside County stands at more than 4,000 today, with 149 deaths, and the chairman of the Board of Supervisors seeks to have county public health orders on COVID-19 rescinded.
The latest figures were released Thursday by the Riverside University Health System.
Of the 212 county residents who are hospitalized with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — 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.
Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chairman Manuel Perez said Thursday he will ask the full board on Tuesday to terminate remaining public health orders amid what he said is evidence the coronavirus threat is receding and the need for economic recovery is growing.
Perez said he and Supervisor Karen Spiegel will jointly present a motion to nullify the four active health orders Public Health Officer Kaiser amended Wednesday to keep in effect to June 19.
The orders include wearing face coverings outside the home at all times or face misdemeanor charges and fines, barring short-term rentals except in the case of providing emergency shelter for vulnerable persons, placing limits on golfing, keeping schools closed and mandating social distancing.
If a majority of the board votes to rescind, the county will revert to alignment with only mandates issued by Newsom, which focus on staying in the home under voluntary quarantine, with exceptions for so-called “essential” businesses and meeting everyday needs for personal well-being.
“Our data and metrics show that we have conducted over 50,000 (COVID-19) tests at five locations, which is 2% of our county’s population,” Perez said.
“We prepared for the expected hospital surge with two Federal Medical Stations that we have not had to use. Our hospital bed and ICU bed use have remained relatively consistent. These data explain why our original modeling has changed.”
According to Riverside University Health System figures, the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations is down to 212, compared to nearly 230 last week.
There have been 4,031 documented infections, though Kaiser and other RUHS staff predicted a possible “surge” to 65,000 infections by the first week of May, later revised to 13,000, with 200 deaths, none of which will bear out.
The board granted Kaiser unfettered authority to issue public health mandates when it declared a local emergency on March 10.
During a news briefing at the County Administrative Center Wednesday, Kaiser acknowledged that the increase in temperatures and other seasonal changes would “slow the virus down,” but asserted the ongoing need to wear face coverings, though the articles are not mandated by the California Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends their voluntary utilization only in confined settings.
Perez said on Wednesday that the county was gradually moving toward the initial phases of recovery outlined by Newsom Tuesday.
Newsom detailed 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.
“We know the workforce is ready, and we know businesses are ready,” Perez said. “We need to do it in phases.”
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.