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California

Want to report coronavirus scofflaws? Riverside County has an app for that

Coronavirus watchdogs in Riverside County who come across nonessential businesses still in operation, large gatherings or businesses not complying with health orders can now report scofflaws anonymously through the county’s mobile app.

County officials on Thursday said their app, RivCoMobile, has been updated with a coronavirus feature that will provide data to county health officials about possible violations of state and local orders related to business closures, gatherings and social distancing enacted in response to the outbreak.

“Unfortunately, we’ve received numerous reports of violations throughout the county. This data will allow us to map areas of noncompliance, where we anticipate there will be associated outbreaks of COVID-19 and a corresponding need for resources,” Dr. Geoffrey Leung, Riverside University Health System’s chief of medical staff, said in a prepared statement.

When reporting possible violations, users will be asked to provide an address and specify the type of violation. Users can also attach a photo of the alleged violation.

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The app’s new feature was announced the same day that public health officials confirmed another death coronavirus-related death in the county, bringing its toll to 33. As of Thursday, there were 1,280 confirmed COVID-19 cases countywide. Officials said of those who have been infected, 125 have recovered so far.

Officials across Southern California have been strengthening orders and enforcement on public gatherings, face coverings and other social distancing efforts in an an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Riverside County’s public health officer last weekend ordered all residents to cover their noses and mouths when leaving home. Dr. Cameron Kaiser said that despite previous pleas from county officials for residents to keep their distance and stay home, “more and more” residents were getting infected with the virus, and “not everyone’s getting the message.”

“We change from saying that you should to saying that you must,” Kaiser said in a prepared statement.

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Law enforcement agencies have the authority to enforce the order, which runs through April 30, through citations or arrest, according to county officials.

However, Sheriff Chad Bianco said in a video message this week that his department wouldn’t be setting up “any type of police state” in Riverside County. Deputies also won’t be stopping vehicles or residents out for a walk with their families and won’t cite residents simply for not wearing a mask, he said.

Bianco asked residents not to call 911 to report potential violators, but reserve the number for “emergencies and critical calls.”

The app, county officials say, provides the public with another option for reporting.

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“We must mitigate and suppress the spread of the coronavirus. This app will help identify hot spots that will lead to efficiently responding to businesses that are risking the health of the community,” Board of Supervisors Chair V. Manuel Perez said in a statement.


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