RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County health officials reported 20 more coronavirus deaths today, bringing the total to 181, a day before the county Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss lifting local public health orders.
The number of cases in the county rose to 4,354 Monday, with 174 new infections reported, according to the Riverside University Health System.
Of the 217 county residents who are hospitalized with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — 78 are being treated in intensive care units, the same as Sunday.
Riverside County has the second-highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the state, behind only Los Angeles County.
The number of documented recoveries stands at 1,971, up by 11 from Sunday’s figures, officials said.
Last Wednesday, county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser extended the county’s emergency health order mandating social-distancing practices and requiring face coverings for residents when outside their homes, saying during a news conference, “For the immediate future, this is the new normal in Riverside County.”
The following day, Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chairman Manuel Perez said he plans to ask the full board to terminate the local public health orders this week, claiming evidence shows the threat is receding and the need for economic recovery is growing.
Perez said he and Supervisor Karen Spiegel will jointly present a motion Tuesday to nullify the four active local health orders, signaling a potential end to restrictions that in some cases are more aggressive than those at the state level.
County orders still in effect include are requirement that face coverings be worn outside the home at all times, under penalty of misdemeanor charges and fines; a ban on short-term rentals except in the case of providing emergency shelter for vulnerable people; a limit on playing golf; school closures; and mandated social distancing.
If a majority of the board votes to rescind the local orders, the county will revert to alignment with only mandates issued by the state, which call on people to remain home as much as possible and allow only so-called “essential” businesses to remain open.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state will relax some of its guidelines later this week, allowing more retail businesses to open but with operating restrictions, such as mandating only curbside pickup of goods. He said the relaxed order would allow shops such as book stores, florists, sporting good stores and clothing stores to reopen, at least on a limited
Newsom said more businesses are allowed to open, officials will be monitoring for possible spikes in cases that might put pressure on hospitals.
Perez said the county has been long prepared for a surge in cases that never materialized.
“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,” Perez said. “These data explain why our original modeling has changed.”
So far, 56,251 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.