New Coronavirus Patient Identified in the Coachella Valley

Taylor Martinez

Another novel coronavirus infection was confirmed in the Coachella Valley, bringing the total number of patients receiving treatment countywide to 15, health officials reported Monday.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser released no details regarding the status of the individual.

The latest tally of infected county residents includes one person who was diagnosed with COVID-19 while aboard a Diamond Princess cruise liner that docked in the San Francisco Bay last month. That patient has since returned to the county and is on home isolation, according to Riverside University Health System spokesman Jose Arballo.

Another resident aboard the ship also tested positive, but that person remains in Northern California, Arballo said.

Eleven COVID-19 cases originated in the county, or were “locally acquired,” officials said.

Kaiser, operating under authority granted to him by the Board of Supervisors last week in a health emergency proclamation, issued several sweeping orders, one of which took effect Monday — the closure of all public and private schools, including colleges and universities, until April 6.

Multiple school districts were already in the process of shuttering facilities when the doctor exercised his newly granted powers. UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox closed down the campus last Tuesday, leaving open the option for students to receive instruction via the internet.

Kaiser’s schools directive was preceded by orders canceling the popular Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival, both of which have been rescheduled to October.

He also directed that no assemblies in excess of 250 people be permitted anywhere within the county, including houses of worship. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since then advised that people should not gather in groups above 10.

The doctor acknowledged that his restrictions “may seem harsh … but are necessary if we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

No cases have been recorded in the western county region.

The city of Indio declared a municipal health emergency Monday, structuring it according to guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health. The action led to temporary closures of the Senior and Teen centers, as well as cancellation of Movies in the Park for March and April. City Hall will remain open, officials said, but some business will be curtailed.

Over the weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked for seniors and people in compromised health to self-isolate at home wherever possible to reduce exposure risks. The governor also asked for bars, wineries and night clubs to reduce services. There was no formal order associated with the announcement, only voluntary action.

Also over the weekend, Palm Springs City Manager David Ready declared a municipal health emergency, which the city council is slated to approve Thursday, mandating that all bars, night clubs and breweries close, while placing restrictions on access to public facilities.

On Friday, Riverside City Manager Al Zelinka implemented a local emergency, which the council will take up Tuesday, closing all non-essential municipal facilities, including City Hall, as of Friday afternoon.

In Moreno Valley, officials announced postponement of all municipal events until at least the end of May, and starting Monday, participatory gatherings at the city’s Senior Center, Main and Mall libraries are not permitted. However, the facilities remain open, and services are available to individuals, officials said.

“The evidence we’ve seen so far from other parts of the country tells us the rate of infection in our region is going to get worse before it gets better,” Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez said Thursday. “We would be negligent not to take these actions.”

Some businesses shuttered without any prompts from authorities. The Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula closed Monday, and Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro said operations would be discontinued until the end of the month, with employees still receiving salary and benefits.

All events at the Fox Performing Arts Center in downtown Riverside have been postponed until further notice, and the Riverside-based nonprofit Fuel Relief Fund, which provides gasoline to regions struck by disaster worldwide, announced cancellation of its May 8 fundraiser golf tournament.

Frequent hand washing, social distancing and basic hygiene were emphasized as good precautionary practices against infection.

Symptoms include fever, coughing and respiratory distress. A person usually develops the symptoms within two weeks of exposure, the CDC stated.

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