Coronavirus: Riverside County Board of Supervisors to vote on rescinding health orders

Riverside County supervisor pushes back against the county's health officer who extended orders to wear masks in public.
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) -- The fight over when to reopen the economy is now taking center stage amid the coronavirus emergency. There were protests at the beaches and a protest in San Bernardino.

Now a member of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is pushing back against the county's health officer who extended orders to wear masks in public and maintain physical distancing through June 19.

Riverside County's 5th District Supervisor Jeff Hewitt wrote a public letter accusing health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser of continuing "a campaign of fear." He said the board will vote next Tuesday on a measure to rescind all of the health officer's orders, instead putting Riverside County only under Gov. Gavin Newsom's state order.

If approved, it would mean masks would no longer would be required to be worn in all public places, and strict physical distancing guidelines would no longer have to be followed.

"There's research that shows masks can be good or bad," said Hewitt. "Out in the Coachella Valley, when its 110 degrees and you're just trying to breathe, and you're not around anybody at all, it's not a good idea."

Hewitt said small businesses are hanging by a thread right now. So are many county residents who are out of work.

"They have six kids in a small apartment, and they're looking for some hope."

"We have one camp that says you can't put a price on a life, and that camp usually thinks that you can take the economy and turn it back on like your Prius. And we have another camp that says look, this is just another version of the flu. And we have killed possibly the greatest economy of mankind for the flu."

In San Bernardino County, the Board of Supervisors will discuss its eventual plans to reopen the economy at its meeting next week. Details are still being worked out.

San Bernardino County health officials said the curve is flattening, and they've even seen a slight decrease in hospitalizations over the past few days. But they continue to push back on people who say that COVID-19 is just another version of the flu.

"I've lived through many bad flu years," said Dr. Rodney Borger of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. "Never have we seen young healthy people get critically ill for no reason, and put on a ventilator, and some of them die.

"This is not just like the regular flu."
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Health officials ordered residents in Riverside County to stay home and cover their faces when leaving amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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