Riverside County surpassed 6,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, with health officials adding 101 new infections, along with nine additional fatalities.
The number of documented cases now stands at 6,053 with 270 deaths, according to the Riverside University Health System.
Of the 195 county residents currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 68 are being treated in intensive care units, the same as on Monday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced a relaxation of restrictions that could allow more businesses to reopen in a majority of the state’s counties, with local officials saying publicly shortly after the governor’s address they are confident Riverside will be among those counties who fit the criteria.
“This is hopeful and positive news for local businesses in Riverside County, Southern California and across our great state,” Riverside County Supervisor Manuel Perez said in a statement Monday afternoon.
“The governor listened to the input received by our counties. Riverside County was proud to demonstrate our successes in protecting essential workers and vulnerable populations, being a leader in testing, expanding contact tracing, providing for surge capacity in our health care system, and identifying triggers for modifications. I believe it’s because we’re meeting these metrics and showing downward trends that the governor’s office is working with us and assisting our counties in advancing the economy in a safe way while we fight this pandemic.”
Several Southern California counties — including Riverside County — had teamed up last week to send a joint request asking the governor to grant “variances” to his four-phase plan in order to pave the way to full restoration of private-sector activity under public health executive orders. Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego counties joined the effort.
Newsom said that if current trends continue, the state may significantly ease restrictions in the next few weeks, possibly allowing professional sporting events to resume without spectators and hair salons to reopen in June.
Under the newly announced rules, Newsom said roughly 53 of the state’s 58 counties would likely qualify to move deeper into Phase Two of the state’s recovery roadmap, allowing more businesses in those counties to open faster than in other counties. Such openings, however, would be contingent on the impacts of the virus in individual counties, Newsom said.
Dr. Geoffrey Leung of the RUHS said last Friday during a livestreamed news conference that cases locally “are really slowing down.”
“The positivity rate (from tests) has dropped, and compared to two or three weeks ago … the trend line is moving downward for coronavirus-related deaths,” he said.
Leung also cautioned that while case loads have flattened, COVID-19 diagnoses are still occurring daily. However, data show hospitalizations countywide have dropped by one-fifth compared to three weeks ago.
All county residents — whether they are suffering from coronavirus symptoms or not — can get tested at a variety of locations, including eight funded by the state that opened last week. To receive exams at these sites, which include Mecca, Norco, Desert Hot Springs and Hemet, appointments must be made at lhi.care/covidtesting.
Four drive-up testing sites run by county public health officials in Perris, Indio, Riverside and Lake Elsinore remain operational and can be accessed if an appointment is made ahead of time. The appointments line is 800-945-6171.
More than 86,000 Riverside County residents have been tested for the coronavirus, which accounts for more than 3% of the county’s population of nearly 2.5 million.
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