Riverside County fails to meet state coronavirus targets to reopen

RIVERSIDE, California (KABC) – The continued reopening of Riverside County businesses could soon be jeopardized due to the region’s failure to meet certain state-mandated COVID-19 statistical requirements.

The county was placed on the state-specific participation list on June 17. The region must show improvement within two weeks of that date or risk state officials taking action.

“If we are reaching the limit of what we can do locally and the state is concerned about our numbers, the state can step in and do something,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County health officer.

“We are not sure what that something is, and we are not sure how fast they would do it.”

The COVID-19 metric that Dr. Kaiser is most concerned about in Riverside County is the percentage of people being tested who are positive for the coronavirus. The state requires counties to be below an 8% positivity rate. The most recent figures show that Riverside County has a positivity of 10.6%.

Another problem is hospitalizations. The state requires counties to show that the number of increased COVID-19 hospitalizations is less than 10% based on an average of three days. For now, the county is within that range. Kaiser said the daily increase for Riverside County is between 6-7% at the moment.

“This all happens during the summer, when our communicable disease rates should be at a low point. Imagine what will happen in the fall if we catch the flu at the same time.”

Dr. Kaiser reiterated previous statements made by Governor Gavin Newsom that he does not want to order that the companies that have reopened be closed again. But he said that will require a greater effort on the part of businesses and residents to wear facial covers, practice good hygiene and maintain physical distance.

“If we want companies to stay open and viable, and I think everyone does, we will have to come together on this,” Kaiser said. “It shouldn’t be a problem where ‘I’m not going to wear a mask because I think it’s a political trap.’

“If people want to go back to something that is as close to normal as possible, we will have to do a better job of this. And the numbers that I am seeing show that we are not doing it.”

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All rights reserved.