Riverside County not meeting state's COVID-19 goals for reopening

The continued reopening of Riverside County businesses could be in jeopardy because of the region's failure to meet certain COVID-19 state goals.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The continued reopening of Riverside County businesses could soon be jeopardized because of the region's failure to meet certain COVID-19 statistical requirements mandated by the state.

The county was placed on the state's targeted engagement list on June 17. The region must show improvement within two weeks of that date or risk action by state officials.

"If we're reaching the limits of what we can do locally and the state is concerned about our numbers, the state may step in and do something," said Riverside County health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

"We're not sure what that something is, and we're not sure how quickly they would do it."

The COVID-19 metric that concerns Dr. Kaiser the most 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 numbers show Riverside County at 10.6% positivity.

Another factor considered is hospitalizations. For now the county is meeting the state requirements on that front. The state requires counties to show the number of increased COVID-19 hospitalizations to be less than 10% based on a three-day average. Kaiser said Riverside County's daily increase is between 6-7% right now.

"This is all happening during the summer when our rates from communicable disease should be at a low point. Imagine what's going to occur in the fall if we happen to get flu at the same time."

Dr. Kaiser reiterated previous statements made by Gov. Gavin Newsom that he does not want to order businesses that have reopened to close again. But he said that is going to require more effort on the part of businesses and residents to wear facial coverings, practice good hygiene and maintain physical distancing.

"If we want businesses to stay open and be viable, and I think everybody does, we're going to have to come together on this," Kaiser said. "It shouldn't be an issue where 'I'm not going to wear a mask because I think it's a political trap.'

"If people want to get back to something that is as close to normal as possible, we're going to have to do a better job on this. And the numbers I'm seeing are showing that we're not."
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