Riverside county has seen a “rapidly rising” number of COVID-19 cases, including the deaths of two sheriff’s deputies from the virus, prompting health officials on Saturday to order the public to stay home and cover their faces when leaving.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was at 665 with 18 deaths, and 60 people recovered from the virus, Riverside County Public Health Department reported Saturday. In response to the increase in cases, Riverside County Public Health Dr. Cameron Kaiser said there should be no gatherings of any number of people taking place outside of family members who live in the same home.
“While more and more Riverside County residents are getting COVID-19, not everybody’s getting the message,” Kaiser said in a released statement. “It started with staying home, social distance and covering your face. But now we change from saying that you should to saying that you must.”
For anyone venturing outside Kaiser ordered that the person, essential workers included, wear a face covering when leaving home. Kaiser said residents should not purchase N95 or surgical masks due to the extremely limited supply for health care workers, but instead should wear other types of face shields including bandannas, scarves, neck gaiters or clothing that does not have visible holes.
In the plea to the public, officials mentioned Deputy David Werksman, a 22-year veteran of the department and Deputy Terrell Young, who both died Thursday after succumbing to complications from the virus.
“We have already lost two of our deputies to this virus. I am asking all of you to honor them by staying at home,” said Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco.
The goal of the order, which remains in effect through April 30, is to encourage that residents comply with the statewide safety measures that have been implemented to flatten the curve, Kaiser added.
“Law enforcement agencies throughout the county have the authority to enforce these orders as they deem necessary,” he added.
Although the no gathering order does not apply to essential businesses, including healthcare offices, grocery stores or gas stations, county health officials reminded the businesses to use social distancing measures to keep everyone safe and are making it mandatory for all employees to wear face coverings.
All churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship in Riverside County are prohibited from all in-person gatherings, including drive-in religious services.
“Palm Sunday, Passover and Easter are sacred days. The best way to practice our love for God is loving our fellow neighbor,” Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said. “That means staying home and observing the holidays at home.”