Riverside County reports 175 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County health officials have not reported any new coronavirus-related deaths but confirmed 175 new infections.

The countywide COVID-19 death toll remains at 204 as of Saturday while the number of cases ticked up to 4,992. Additionally, 136 more county residents have recovered from the virus, bringing the total to 2,616, according to data from the Riverside University Health System-Public Health.

Saturday’s numbers mark the largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since Wednesday, and the first day without new reported deaths since Sunday.

Even though Riverside County continues to have the second-highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the state, behind only Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors voted Friday to lift all but one component of a series of restrictions imposed by the public health officer stemming from the coronavirus emergency.

The board decision came Friday during a special meeting and removes potential penalties residents would have faced for violating any of the orders.

Of the 193 Riverside County residents hospitalized with the disease as of Friday, 79 are being treated in intensive care units, two fewer than Thursday, according to the Riverside University Health System.

The number of documented recoveries stands at 2,217, up 263 from Wednesday.

More than 69,000 Riverside County residents have been tested for the virus, which accounts for slightly more than 2% of the county’s population of nearly 2.5 million.

On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly broadly outlined the changes under Phase 2 of the governor’s multi-point plan for reducing regulations and restarting the state’s economy, while stressing the virus is no less dangerous.

The changes do not add to the state mandates in place for residents conducting everyday affairs, but they do call for workplace adjustments as businesses reopen.

Eight new state-funded coronavirus testing sites opened this week throughout the county, with the combined capacity to test an additional 1,000 people per day. Free testing for all residents regardless of symptoms will be administered at the new locations by OptumServe, a private company.

Four drive-up testing sites run by county public health officials in Perris, Indio, Riverside and Lake Elsinore remain operational.

In another coronavirus-related development, the Desert Healthcare District on Friday began donating 2,000 protective face shields to health care workers around the Coachella Valley working on the front lines of the pandemic.

Regional facilities set to receive the equipment include a coronavirus testing site at 85365 Dillon Road run by Borrego Health, which operates on property owned by the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians near Spotlight Casino in Coachella.

Other facilities set to receive equipment donated by the district are the three area hospitals: Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage and JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio, the district said, along with Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo and Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine in Indio.

Riverside Public Utilities, meanwhile, unveiled a program under which Riverside residents financially impacted by the public health orders that stopped some workforce activity amid the coronavirus emergency may be eligible for credits on their utility bills. The Riverside City Council on Tuesday voted to allow Riverside Public Utilities to develop a relief pathway for residents, and the result is the COVID-19 Emergency Recovery Assistance Program, or ERAP.

Under the program, $5 million in the city’s budget will be designated for credits on customers’ bills. Officials said a one-time $250 reduction per qualifying customer will be available. Outright bill forgiveness is not permitted under state law, officials said.