Coronavirus Cases Rise In Riverside County; Face Masks Mandated

Toni McAllister

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — The number of new coronavirus cases continues spiking in Riverside County, with Thursday seeing the largest single-day increase since the pandemic began and the death toll surpassing 400.

The latest statistics come the day California mandated face coverings for everyone, with few exceptions. "Californians are now required to wear face coverings in public spaces — particularly indoors or when physical distancing is not possible," Gov. Gavin Newsom's office said in a tweet.

In Riverside County, 516 new COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday, pushing the total number of infections to 12,467. Of those cases, 6,516 have recovered from the virus.

Thursday's figures also show another nine county residents died from COVID-19 complications, bringing the death toll to 408.

Hospitalizations also rose, from 257 Wednesday to 285 Thursday. Over the last two reporting days, 48 COVID-19 patients have been admitted to area hospitals. Currently, 75 patients are in ICU countywide — a jump of 10 since Wednesday.

The number of people tested for the virus stands at 171,415.

"Cases of coronavirus have increased, which is an expected outcome resulting from people visiting more places in the community," a county news release said Thursday. "Riverside County officials continue to urge all residents, employees and business operators to take necessary safety steps to slow the spread of the disease."

Increased infections have come as more businesses are being allowed to open Friday. Those that can resume are nail services; facial and esthetician services; shaving, waxing and threading services; massage therapy services; and body art, tattoo and piercing services, the county announced Wednesday. Additionally, wedding ceremonies can start again, but wedding receptions are banned. Libraries may also reopen.

On May 22, the county received state approval to reopen destination retail stores, including shopping malls and swap meets; dine-in restaurants; and schools with modifications. The county then allowed houses of worship to reopen May 25, and hair salons/barbershops on May 26. The Memorial Day week reopenings coincided with local protests over the Minneapolis death of George Floyd.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state the incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days, with a median time of four to five days from exposure to symptoms onset, and not everyone feels sick when infected.

The spike in the county's COVID-19 cases became pronounced June 9 and has continued since. Read more here.

As more residents come into contact with people outside their own households, the public is asked to use common sense.

“Social distancing, washing our hands and wearing facial coverings are all simple measures that we can all abide by to protect ourselves and our fellow neighbors," said 4th District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.

Perez's district includes the Coachella Valley, which is home to about a quarter of all COVID-19 cases and deaths in the county.

“This pandemic has hit hard all of our communities," Perez said. "But in particular, people of color and vulnerable communities such as seniors, farm workers and those with compromised immune systems. We see a rise in positive cases and hospital bed usage in the county, but more so in the Coachella Valley.”

As for Thursday's face covering mandate, Perez said, "I am happy that our governor has made this decision.”

Face masks were required under a county health order issued April 4, but on May 8 the county board of supervisors rescinded the mandate in a 5-0 vote.

According to county health officials, coronavirus spreads through droplets expelled while sneezing, coughing or talking. Infected people who do not show symptoms can still spread the virus to others.

"Covering the nose and mouth with a cloth face covering, bandana or neck gaiter keeps these droplets in," said Thursday's news release from the county.

Per the state's new face covering order, the only exceptions to the mandate are:

  • Children age 2 and under.
  • Persons with a medical, mental health or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
  • Persons who are hearing-impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence.
  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others.
  • Persons who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails, as part of their mitigation plans, will have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings of masks for both inmates and staff.

Read more about the state's face covering guidance and limited exceptions here.

For information about free coronavirus testing in the county, click here.

This article originally appeared on the Banning-Beaumont Patch