The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Riverside County now stands at 48, with the countywide death toll at 6, health officials said Monday.
Three additional infections were documented by the Riverside University Health System Monday afternoon. The county’s COVID-19 case map showed the Coachella Valley with the highest count of prior or ongoing infections — 25 — followed by the northwest county area at 13, the southwest region at eight and mid-county with one.
Another resident who acquired the virus while traveling aboard a cruise ship remains in Northern California, officials said.
“We are working diligently to ensure those who may have been exposed are taken care of, but we know COVID-19 is present in the community, and there will be more cases,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said last week.
On March 17, citing U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Kaiser capped gatherings at 10 at any given time, with few exceptions, until at least April 30.
He emphasized that restaurants, bars and other dining spaces are included in the restriction and should now focus operations on takeout services. However, the establishments can still host gatherings of groups of 10 in subdivided rooms, and the city of Riverside’s health emergency provisions adopted last week specifically recognized that exception — as long as the eateries do not exceed 50% capacity.
The directive also includes houses of worship, weddings and sporting events, though grocery stores, homeless shelters and daycare centers are exempt.
The order, which Kaiser was empowered to enact under a board-authorized local health emergency declared on March 10, further mandates the closure of all public and private learning institutions — including colleges and universities — until April 30.
“We have to make interventions stick in order to break the cycle of contagion so COVID-19 does not overwhelm our hospital capacity,” Kaiser told the board on Tuesday.
Out of the 48 total cases, 24 were determined to have been acquired locally, four were travel-associated and 20 are under investigation to verify origin.
The cities of Corona, Indio, Palm Desert and Palm Springs have all implemented local emergency measures synthesized with the county’s requirements and recommendations from the California Department of Public Health.
A little over a week ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked for seniors and people in compromised health to self-isolate at home wherever possible to reduce exposure risks. The governor also asked for bars, wineries and night clubs to reduce services. There was no formal order associated with the announcement, only voluntary action.
However, the governor followed the request with an executive order Thursday advising that all individuals who are not involved in essential services to stay home whenever possible.
The Palm Springs City Council issued a health emergency Tuesday mandating that all bars, cannabis lounges, gyms, night clubs and breweries close, while placing restrictions on access to public facilities.
In Moreno Valley, officials announced postponement of all municipal events until at least the end of May, and participatory gatherings at City Hall, the Senior Center, Main and Mall libraries are not permitted.
Some businesses shuttered without any prompts from authorities. The Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula closed last Monday, and Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro said operations would be discontinued until the end of the month, with employees still receiving salary and benefits.
All events at the Fox Performing Arts Center in downtown Riverside have been postponed until further notice, while other theaters have been shutting down. Even the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, a largely outdoor venue, announced it would be closed for the remainder of March.
Frequent hand washing, social distancing and basic hygiene were emphasized as good precautionary practices against viral infection.
COVID-19 symptoms are comparable to the flu and include fever, coughing and respiratory distress. A person usually develops the symptoms within two weeks of exposure, according to the CDC.