7 July 2020 Blog Post: COVID-19 and Riverside County: The United States in Micro
On the evening of May 8th 2020, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors felt they had seen enough to make an informed decision. There had been 4817 COVID-19 infections and 204 deaths in the County since the outbreak started,
That night the Supervisors voted 5-0 forcing Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, to lift most of his orders. Prior to that fateful night, Riverside County’s response was, at first, more restrictive than the state’s. From April to early May, the county required face coverings and social distancing in public to prevent COVID-19’s spread at a time when the state and federal governments merely suggested those measures. He did so the following day and also followed the board’s wishes in exempting trade schools and higher education from a school closure order.
Also on May 8th, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said he had no plans to cite people for defying mask-wearing orders or disregarding other public health directives. Appearing on “Fox & Friends” with host Steve Doocy, Bianco explained that the “situation” in Riverside County under state orders is “nothing like they told us it was going to be in the beginning.”
For one week, the Sheriff and the Supervisors probably thought they had done the right thing. New infection rates declined to 3.89 daily cases per 100,000 population. That was the last week of coronavirus being “nothing like they told us.” Since then, it has been exactly as we feared. Currently, Riverside County has a new infection rate of 19.30 daily cases per 100,000 population, an increase of 496%.
Riverside County’s spike is so concerning, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the accelerated reopenings to be dialed back. Restaurants can no longer have indoor dining and bars were ordered closed. The county’s positivity rate for COVID-19 screening is running close to 12%, while the state’s preferred benchmark is 8%. Hospital bed usage rate countywide is between 61% and 68%. Intensive care bed usage is between 95% and 99%.
Riverside County is but one of the many stories that now dot the United States’ COVID-19 landscape. Without a doubt, similar faulty decision making lies behind each local outbreak which, in turn, has spiraled to encompass the entire country.
And for those making decisions in each of these municipalities – in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Montana, Wisconsin, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Nevada, Idaho – coronavirus is exactly like they said it could be.
𝗦𝗶𝗴𝗻 𝗨𝗽 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝘀𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿
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