RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside University Health System reported Thursday that officials had identified 516 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths associated with the virus since Wednesday.

The 516 newly confirmed cases are the county’s largest one-day uptick in cases since the pandemic began.

Since Wednesday, 28 new coronavirus patients have been admitted to Riverside County hospitals. There are now 285 patients, with 75 being treated in intensive care units — 10 more than were reported Wednesday.

Infections countywide now stand at 12,467, with 408 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to the county.

Riverside University Health System Public Information Officer Jose Arballo said that Thursday’s increase in cases stems from a combination of factors including additional cases being reported in long-term care facilities and state prisons, and the possibility that some of the protests in recent weeks spurred more infections.

“The timing is about right for an increase if you were going to see it from the beginnings of the protests,” told City News Service.

However, Arballo didn’t mention the reopening of businesses as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s staged plan for reopening as a factor for the uptick.

Protests spurred by the death of Minnesota man George Floyd, who died May 25, began within days after a video of the incident surfaced and continue at various levels of participation through today.

The county successfully petitioned Gov. Newsom to move into an accelerated Stage 2.5 countywide May 22, meaning restaurants and other businesses could reopen to the public. Three days later, churches were permitted to reopen, and May 26, barbershops were cleared to open.

There were 6,516 recoveries as of Thursday, which is more than half of all countywide residents who have been infected. Officials define recoveries as people who were infected but are no longer in isolation, showing symptoms and have had their public health cases closed.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday ordered all residents to wear face coverings in almost all settings outside their homes to help slow the spread of the virus.
The statewide mandate requires residents to wear masks in “high-risk situations,” which cover virtually all scenarios outside the home.

A Riverside County Sheriff’s Department representative told City News Service the department’s Media Information Bureau had not yet received a statement regarding enforcement on the matter from Sheriff Chad Bianco.

The sheriff said last month he would not enforce the state’s stay-at-home order.
Riverside County health officials Thursday urged residents to abide by the new mandate despite having rescinded a similar order countywide in May but did not specify how the order would be enforced.

“This pandemic has hit hard all of our communities,” Supervisor Manuel Perez told City News Service. “But in particular, people of color and vulnerable communities such as seniors, farmworkers, and those with compromised immune systems. We see a rise in positive cases and hospital bed usage in the county but more so in the Coachella Valley.”
On Friday, more Riverside County businesses will be able to open their doors as the coronavirus regulatory bar is lowered further, with nail salons, tattoo parlors and massage therapy outlets eligible to return to operation.

The county is continuing its transition through stage 3 of the governor’s four-stage de-regulation framework tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to county health officials, nail salons, facial and esthetician providers, shaving, waxing and threading businesses, massage therapy outlets, and tattoo and piercing parlors countywide will be eligible to resume operations under guidelines specified by the California Department of Public Health.

Last week, motels, gyms, bars, museums, theaters, and wineries were among entities given the green light to reopen under public health guidelines that encourage social distancing, caps on the size of gatherings, and repetitive sanitation of spaces.

Officials noted that wedding ceremonies can proceed, but receptions are not yet on the list of permitted functions.

In stage 4 of the governor’s de-regulation framework, nightclubs, concert venues, and sports venues will be eligible to resume operations.

Jeff Pack contributed to this report.