Governor Gavin Newsom placed almost every county in California in the restrictive purple tier in the state’s reopening plan and issued a curfew because of the alarming rise in COVID cases.
But Riverside County has been in the most restrictive tier for weeks, forcing many businesses to modify operations and others to shut down again.
Last month, after a lot of push back, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approach neighboring counties and form a coalition to petition the governor to revise the state’s reopening plan.
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez (Chair, District 4) says he’s not sure if they will still pursue this plan, “Obviously at that time the numbers weren’t as spiking as they are now we will be having these conversations, I do not know if we’re going to continuously move in that direction but it’s about balance and that’s what makes this very difficult.”
Difficult because the county has a $40 million shortfall, and businesses are struggling to hold on.
“We’ve got to suppress the pandemic on one end and at the other end we have to make sure that our economy somehow survives all this and quite frankly you know without the economy moving forward one way or another how are we going to provide services to our constituents,” says Perez.
Right now the county has more than three times the cases required to remove the restrictions. Many are wondering if Riverside County will follow L.A. County’s lead and shut down outdoor dining too.
“In Riverside County while we are not talking about closing outdoor restaurants at this point this is a very rapidly changing situation and decisions will be made to best protect the community,” said Kim Saruwatari, the county’s public health director.
“We’re going to be having that conversation with the executive office, with our public health team and with the California Department of Public Health,” said Perez, adding he doesn’t think that will happen.
As this surge is happening across the country, the county is monitoring hospital capacity closely because this time outside help may not be available.
“Fortunately we do have the federal medical sites at the fairgrounds, we have another one up in Riverside if we need to open those, we’re not there at this point but it’s just an ongoing challenge, it’s an ongoing conversation, things may change between this interview and the time you actually air it, and so that’s just the way it is right now,” says Perez.
Governor Newsom says hospitalizations surged 77 percent and ICU admissions surged 55 percent in just the last two weeks.
County officials are urging everyone to follow the CDC guidelines and also avoid gatherings this Thanksgiving holiday. But for those who will gather despite the growing numbers, they ask that the gatherings are smaller, shorter and safer.
RIVERSIDE COUNTY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Smaller – If you are going to meet during the holiday, keep the groups small and separate, even
within a household. Avoid large gatherings.
Shorter – Keep get-togethers to an hour or two.
Safer – Don’t forget about basic safety: wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your
hands. Eat and socialize outside. Consider seating one family group on the patio, while another
sits in a separate area. Keep plenty of hand sanitizer on hand. Avoid sharing serving utensils.