Riverside County leaders vote to send letter to Gov. Newsom making case for faster reopening

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to send a signed letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom to inform him that the county is ready to move on to the next stage of reopening.

California is currently in Stage 2 of reopening, which allowed for curbside pick-up at businesses such as book stores, clothing stores, sporting goods and florists.

However, Newsom has emphasized that not all areas of the state will be forced to strictly adhere with the state's guidelines for moving from stage to stage. Local officials still have the authority to accelerate or slow down reopening at the county level.

If the county is allowed to accelerate, that would mean churches, child care centers, barbershops and hair salons could reopen their doors.

That, of course, is contingent on certain requirements. While Riverside County has the hospital capacity to address another possible surge in coronavirus cases, the region's testing capacity still falls short of metrics set by the state.

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Officials in San Bernardino and Riverside counties announced Friday that face coverings are no longer required, but still strongly recommended.

Gov. Newsom says local municipalities must be conducting at least 3,700 COVID-19 tests per day in order to be eligible. But the county is currently only testing about 3,200 daily.

Still, when compared to other large counties, Riverside County is not that far behind when it comes to testing per capita.

At Tuesday's meeting, some residents spoke in favor of the county's plan to push for businesses to reopen.

"The only lifeline you have is your local business owners developers, whatever is left now. If we do not open soon, there will be no funding for hospitals, law enforcement, school districts, water and utilities...," said one speaker.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced modifications to the statewide stay-at-home order Tuesday to allow more businesses to reopen, including dine-in restaurants and offices.

Others, however, said the county just isn't ready.

"This document is devoid of state protocols, lacks best practices and poor outcomes will follow," said one woman who called into the meeting.

The county is now waiting on word from the governor.

While face coverings are no longer a requirement in Riverside County, officials and businesses are recommending that residents continue to wear them.
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