Riverside County health officials have reported another seven fatalities and 48 confirmed coronavirus infections, bringing the death toll to 156 and the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 4,079.
Of the 214 county residents who are hospitalized Friday with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — 85 are being treated in intensive care units, six more than Thursday, but down from nearly 230 last week.
According to the Riverside University Health System, the number of documented recoveries now totals 1,693, up by 210.
Riverside County has the second-highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the state, behind only Los Angeles County.
On Wednesday, 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 “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 remaining public health orders next week amid 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 Tuesday to nullify the four active 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 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 orders, 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.
“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.”
During a news briefing at the County Administrative Center on Wednesday, Kaiser 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 a four-phase recovery plan outlined Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“We know the workforce is ready, and we know businesses are ready,” Perez said. “We need to do it in phases.”
So far, 51,228 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.