After nearly three months, a number of Riverside County facilities that were shuttered or placed under limited schedules amid the coronavirus emergency will reopen for regular business Monday.
County CEO George Johnson directed that the buildings go back into operation, with public health protocols in place.
“While the journey ahead will be challenging and full of uncertainty, I am confident that our county team will continue to meet the needs of our residents,” Johnson said.
The County Administrative Center on Lemon Street, which has been under limited operation and curtailed public access since March 18, will be completely accessible again. The multi-story complex contains a bevy of offices, including the Clerk of the Board, the Treasurer-Tax Collector and all of the Executive Office functions.
The Department of Public Social Services, Economic Development Agency and Department of Information Technology will also be among the fully reopened facilities.
Some agencies remained open, at least for limited public visits, after the March 18 closure order. They included the District Attorney’s Office, Department of Probation, Sheriff’s Department and Transportation & Land Management Agency. The board chamber in the CAC stayed open, as well.
According to county officials, all those entering county facilities will be asked whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and may be asked to leave if they are. Visitors will also be encouraged to wear face coverings, though they will not be denied access if they choose to do otherwise.
The county is gearing up for a round of hearings on the 2020-21 fiscal year Monday and Tuesday, with additional hearings possible toward the end of the month.
The coronavirus-related regulatory lockdowns impacting the regional, state and national economies have left the county with major revenue shortfalls. Up to $100 million in spending cuts are likely in the coming fiscal year, Johnson said.
“Difficult budget decisions will be necessary to balance county services against the drastic change in our fiscal reality,” he said.
The county, as a whole, meanwhile, has moved into the first half of stage 3 under the state’s four-stage public health de-regulation plan, permitting more private sector interests to resume operations following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 shutdowns for COVID-19 mitigation.
Motels, gyms, bars, museums, theaters and wineries are among the entities that have been given the greenlight to reopen under public health guidelines that encourage social distancing, caps on the size of gatherings and repetitive sanitation of spaces.
“We have long looked forward to reopening more Riverside County businesses, which provide valuable goods, services and jobs vital to the fabric of our economy,” county Supervisor Karen Spiegel said last week.
“It’s very important that while visiting these businesses, all residents continue to do their part to slow the spread of the disease by wearing face coverings and maintaining six feet from others.”
Personal care businesses, including nail salons, as well as sporting venues and libraries, are still prohibited from resuming operations. However, day camps for children were among the facilities given the approval to reopen
On Friday, another 250 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Riverside County, bringing the total to 10,490, while the number of virus-related deaths also edged up, including the first confirmed fatality from COVID-19 complications at the state prison in Blythe, officials said.
According to the Riverside University Health System, the roughly 2% increase in documented infections in a 24-hour period was partly attributable to a surge in cases at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, where 991 male inmates have been diagnosed.
One died late last week, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said Friday. His name was not disclosed, and there was no mention of whether he had underlying medical problems.
The Blythe outbreak is the largest in the state correctional system. Only a surge in infections at Avenal State Prison in central California comes close, at 662, corrections officials said. There are now 15 inmate deaths associated with COVID-19 statewide, including 13 at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County.
The total number of coronavirus-related deaths countywide is 383, compared to 377 Thursday and 355 a week ago, according to RUHS. The number of virus-related hospitalizations stands at 238. The figure has not exceeded 250 since the beginning of May.
The hospitalization tally includes residents from neighboring counties being treated in Riverside County, which received upwards of 100 patients from Imperial County beginning in the last two weeks of May.
A total of 5,896 people have recovered from the virus, among those medically diagnosed, according to RUHS. The county and state have tested 148,126 residents, about 5% of the population countywide, figures show.
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