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Riverside County sees rise in coronavirus cases after vote to rescind local public health orders

Residents who want public health orders rescinded wait to enter the County Administrative Center to speak during an emergency Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting last week.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Following a controversial vote on Friday to allow local health officials to rescind Riverside County’s public health orders, officials on Monday reported 150 new coronavirus cases and 12 deaths.

With 5,189 confirmed cases and 217 deaths, the county now has the second-highest number of cases in the state, behind Los Angeles County, which had more than 32,000 cases as of Monday morning.

Riverside County officials also reported that 199 coronavirus patients are in the hospital, including 74 in intensive care, and 2,645 others have recovered from COVID-19, 26 more than on Sunday.

So far, 73,149 people, both those with and without symptoms, have been tested for the virus. Public health officials are particularly encouraging teenagers and young adults to get tested for the coronavirus. According to census data, people 18 and younger make up about 25% of Riverside County’s population, but only 6.6% of the appointments at testing sites, officials said.

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“We would like to get a more complete picture of the illness as it has spread among young people,” said Kim Saruwatari, the county’s director of public health. “This will [help] us better understand who in the community has the disease and how it might be moving among children and families.”

Records show that nearly 200 residents between the ages of 5 to 17 have tested positive for the virus. Of residents 18 to 39 years old, 1,705 have tested positive.

Increased testing is one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s criteria for reopening businesses and other public spaces. On Friday, Riverside County’s Board of Supervisors voted to rescind all of the county’s stay-at-home orders that went beyond the governor’s restrictions. That included lifting the closure of vocational and higher education schools, ending the restriction on golf courses, eliminating limitations on short-term lodging, and removing the requirements to wear face coverings and engage in social distancing.

Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, had put the restrictions in place until June 19.

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Saruwatari said testing is available for everyone in Riverside County at no cost, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Minors are required to get a parent’s permission.

The county currently operates four drive-up testing sites on an appointment basis. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 945-6171.

Appointments are also required at the eight state-operated walk-up testing sites spread throughout the county. To make an appointment at a state site, go to https://lhi.care/covidtesting or call (888) 634-1123.


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