Riverside County public health officials have extended their local health orders order until June 19, saying that all residents must continue to stay home unless they are engaged in an essential business or activity.
"COVID-19 has not been eliminated," said Riverside County Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. "And it's arguable that we could even say it's been suppressed."
They clarified that certain recreational activities are permitted. For example, Riverside County golf courses were allowed to reopen last week with certain restrictions; golfers must wear masks, and most people must ride in their own golf carts.
But at the same time, some doctors say the death rate of COVID-19 isn't nearly as high as officials are leading the public to believe, and are now calling for the stay home orders to end, and the economy to be reopened.
"There are widespread cases, and a small amount of death," said Dr. Dan Erickson of Accelerated Urgent Care in Kern County. "It's similar to the flu, as a matter of fact."
Dr. Erickson, along with colleague Dr. Artin Massihi, held a news conference earlier this week that is now going viral. They even take shots at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"We're actually seeing the patients," said Dr. Massihi. "Dr. Fauci hasn't seen a patient in 20 years."
YouTube has since removed the video, saying in a statement that they "quickly remove flagged content that violate our community guidelines, including content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of local healthy authority recommended guidance on social distancing that may lead others to act against that guidance."
Dr. Erickson and Dr. Massihi said the Stay Home order is hurting society more than it is helping people. Not only do they say keeping residents home hurts their immune systems, they say it's increasing the number of cases of domestic violence.
"We could go over multiple cases of children who have been molested due to angry family members who are intoxicated at home who have no paycheck," said Dr. Erickson.
"These things last a lifetime. This isn't about a seasonal flu."
They compiled data provided by state authorities that they allege shows about 12% of people tested for COVID-19 have tested positive for the virus. And by extrapolating that data, they suggest that 12% of everyone statewide is likely infected with the virus. Based on those numbers, they say the actual death rate is extremely low.
But Dr. Kaiser disputes their analysis.
"Candidly, the study doesn't make any sense."
Kaiser said the majority of people who've actually been tested have shown a willingness to be tested, and have met a number of criteria including symptoms, profession and travel history. But trying to use those numbers to estimate how many people in California actually have COVID-19 is not accurate.
"If you select for people who come in and want to be tested, it's called selection bias. When that happens, you're tending to pick a population where the virus is more likely to be there. If you do that, you're going to artificially increase your prevalence. And by prevalence, in this case, we're referring to the amount of a population that have (the virus)."