Inland Empire residents won’t be able to cool down at public swimming pools or other water facilities this weekend as temperatures creep into the triple digits in some areas, according to officials.
The Inland Empire is expected to hit the mid to upper 90s for most of the weekend, while Palms Springs and the rest of the Coachella Valley are expected to reach 100 degrees by Saturday, National Weather Service spokesman Philip Gonsalves said.
For many residents, this would’ve been perfect weather to go to community pools or rivers, but public safety restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak have caused limitations across the region.
Community pools are closed throughout Riverside County because of public health orders that encourage social distancing to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. As of Wednesday afternoon, 3,084 people in the county have been infected by the virus and 99 have died, records show. A total of 789 people have recovered from the virus.
Riverside County has the second-highest number of cases in the state, following Los Angeles County, according to The Times’ daily tracker.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the use of pools, hot tubs or water playgrounds if they are properly disinfected with chlorine and bromine.
Brooke Federico, the county’s public information officer, said that there are no restrictions on residents using their own backyard pools as long as they don’t host any gatherings.
On Monday, officials announced that golf courses, parks and trails (including parking lots) will be reopened in Riverside County, according to Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer. Residents are still required to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings at all times.
Hiking trails at the Whitewater Preserve in the Coachella Valley are open, but the river will remain closed until further notice, Federico said. No parking signs were posted in the area this week to discourage visitors.
When the temperature heats up, a few hundred people visit at the river a day, according to Jack Thompson, manager of the preserve. Thompson said that even if the county were to allow the river to reopen, he’d still be on the fence.
“I think we’d have to make our own judgment call because we know that we’d be the ones managing it,” he said. “We have a small staff and I don’t know how exactly we’d be able to enforce social distancing.”
Similar to Riverside County, San Bernardino County officials announced Wednesday that they would reopen their trails, county parks and golf courses on a limited scale, according to county Supervisor Curt Hagman. As of Tuesday evening, the county had reported 1,489 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 67 deaths.
Public swim areas won’t be available this weekend in San Bernardino County either, but that’s because they don’t usually open until Memorial Day weekend, said David Wert, the county’s public information officer.
But those who manage swimming areas operated by the city have the authority to determine whether they want to open as long as they enforce social distancing and face-covering orders, he said.