The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to continue the agenda item to rescind four orders set in place by Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser to align more with the state’s orders. After more than seven hours of public comment, staff comment and board debate, the board decided to continue the item to a special meeting Friday, May 8 at 1 p.m. 

However, that meeting may be canceled depending on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s anticipated announcement on Thursday regarding the phased approach to reopening the state and how that would impact Riverside County. The next scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting is Tuesday, May 12. 

The agenda item to rescind four of the orders set forth by Kaiser was placed on the May 5 agenda by Supervisor Karen Spiegel and Board Chair V. Manuel Perez. There were many public comments both in favor and in opposition to rescinding the orders. 

Spiegel stated during the meeting that the item was brought forward to align all county orders with the governor’s orders, with the exception of face coverings. 

Perez stated during the discussion that the county should keep the orders already set forth because the measures in place may allow Riverside County to move forward with the much-anticipated requirements that will be set by Newsom later on in the week. “I want to rescind our rescinding,” Perez said at one point. 

The four orders on the agenda were:

• Order of the Health Officer Closing All Schools, Community Colleges, Colleges and Universities from March 16, 2020 through June 19, 2020; 

• Order of the Health Officer Related to Short-term Lodging Facilities through June 19, 2020; 

• Order of the Health Officer for the County of Riverside and the Director of Emergency Services Placing Restrictions on Golf Course Use; 

• Order of the Health Officer for the County of Riverside and the Director of Emergency Services requiring the use of face coverings and practice of social distancing. 

“Rescinding this order does not open the schools,” said Spiegel. 

In the document accompanying the agenda item, which was moved up closer to the beginning of the meeting due to the amount of public comment on the item, Spiegel and Perez wrote the following: “In recognition of the need to transition to economic recovery, we continue to position the county to reopen businesses. Keep in mind, rescinding these orders does not negate the governor’s orders, as those are still in place. Any changes to the governor’s order will be provided from the state.”

Third District Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington, who represents the Idyllwild area, commented during the discussion that they should urge people to comply with wearing a mask or face covering instead of requiring people to wear a mask or face covering because he thinks if the county asks, people will comply. 

Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D., CA-36, released the following on the eve of the meeting: “Removing precautions too early and without safeguards will only harm individuals and the economy in our community further. We haven’t yet hit our coronavirus peak, our valley hospital COVID-19 occupancy rates are going up again, and we don’t have the safeguards like enough rapid testing, contact tracing, isolation systems, business and worker safety measures or enforcement mechanisms in place to prevent or contain new flare ups. 

“The governor clearly stated that the counties must tailor their approach to their realities and readiness. Riverside County and in particular the Coachella Valley, have one of the highest risks and vulnerabilities given our demographics, population and industries. We should not default down to the state’s minimal floor precautions but should have precautions and safeguards in place that reflect our data, risks, and vulnerabilities. We must have a comprehensive, well-defined strategy and safeguards in place to begin gradually reopening the economy and transitioning to our new normal in a safe way that that can contain a flare up, prevent loss of life and keep our businesses open.”