Riverside County health officials Thursday reported 13 additional deaths connected to COVID-19, along with 373 newly confirmed coronavirus infections, as county residents braced for a state-mandated overnight curfew set to begin Saturday.
The total number of deaths thought tied to the disease caused by the virus now stands at 1,396, according to the Riverside University Health System.
The aggregate number of infections recorded countywide since the public health documentation period began in early March is 78,009, compared to 77,636 the day before, according to county public health data.
Known active virus cases in Riverside County increased to 11,186 on Thursday, up 212 from the day before. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 78,009 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 65,427.
Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued what amounts to an overnight curfew in response to coronavirus infections surging across the state.
The move prohibits all “non-essential” activities and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties in the state’s most restrictive “purple” tier of the coronavirus-monitoring system, which includes Riverside County.
The new order will take effect at 10 p.m. Saturday and remain in effect until 5 a.m. Dec. 21.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will not respond to calls for service based solely on non-compliance with the new order or social distancing and mask guidelines, “to ensure constitutional rights are not violated and to limit potential negative interactions and exposure to our deputies,” Sheriff Chad Bianco said.
Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, called Newsom’s order unscientific and “nothing more than a penalty box move for us common-sense Californians who are calling him out for his posh, anti-health guidelines lifestyle,” a reference to Newsom attending a dinner party at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley where he appeared to flout the restrictions safety he has set for Californians.
“Doesn’t he know the same individuals with COVID who would be attending said gatherings after 10 p.m. still may have had the virus before the curfew and traveling in public places presumably,” Melendez said.
“This order doesn’t apply to the homeless either so he doesn’t seem to care about them. So what does this `limited stay at home order’ actually solve?”
Health officials earlier this week announced county hospitals are prepared for what appears to be a second-wave surge in cases.
County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton said during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting the rise in COVID-19 caseloads has not overwhelmed area hospitals, which continue to operate with excess bed capacity.
“The good news is, there has been a lot of surge planning,” Barton said. “This is familiar territory for the hospitals. They have processes and procedures in place.
“If there is a need for medical care, know that our hospitals are still safe. Don’t delay seeking medical care for any reason.”
As of Thursday, the number of hospitalizations related to the virus, including intensive care unit patients, is 362, up 24 from Wednesday, The figure includes 85 ICU patients, up four compared to the day before.
County Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari additionally said Tuesday the county now has a state-adjusted new case rate of 22.4 per 100,000 residents and an overall state-calculated positivity rate of 8.9%, up from 6.7%.
However, the county’s testing level is at 282.1 per 100,000. The revised state threshold for large counties is 272 per 100,000, according to Saruwatari.
On Monday, Newsom placed 28 counties in the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy, composed of a four-stage structure for increasing or loosening regulations on economic sectors.
The move was predicated on a 50% statewide upswing in coronavirus cases, which Newsom said is “the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet.”
“The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes,” Newsom said.
Riverside County was returned to the purple tier last month after four weeks in the less restrictive red tier. The reclassification has impacted offices, gyms, restaurants, theaters and place of worship.
The board last month directed CEO George Johnson to coordinate with his counterparts in surrounding counties to formulate a unified strategy for addressing some of the state’s mandates they see as unjustified. One meeting has been held.
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