RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — Riverside County announced Monday that it would allow private and public golf courses to reopen, with restrictions, even as health officials reported an additional 209 cases of the novel coronavirus and 10 more deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 2,847 cases and 85 deaths.
Parks and trails will also remain open, including parking lots, though social distancing and face coverings must be maintained at all times. Allowed outdoor activities include hiking, biking and equestrian activities and other non-contact outdoor activities such as tennis and golf.
“Play is being cautiously reopened for observation,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, said.
Golfers will not be allowed to use caddies and courses can only allow groups with four or fewer people to play. Players and workers will be required to wear face coverings and remain six feet apart from one another at all times. No in-person dining will be allowed and no large gatherings or fundraisers will be allowed until June 20.
The loosening of outdoor activity restrictions comes as the county reported 236 patients remained hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday, 76 of whom were in intensive care units — an increase from Sunday. Health officials also said there had been 58 more recoveries, bringing the total to 700.
Though the rate of infection has “plummeted precipitously” compared to earlier projections, Riverside County Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said last week that it was too early to tell when the process of relaxing mitigation measures could begin.
“The majority of the population is doing what we asked,” Kaiser said Friday. “People are taking appropriate precautions and following the orders that were issued. But we could still go back in the wrong direction. We need to know where our weak points are.”
Also on Friday, Kaiser said he was concerned about the lack of youth COVID-19 infections, fearing an unknown number of children may be dormant carriers of the virus, raising the potential of renewed spread.
“We don’t know how many are out there,” he said. “We will need time to find out and right-size our response.”
Two weeks ago, the county indicated that statistical modeling showed the possibility of 65,000 infections and 1,000 deaths by the first week of May, but last week health officials altered their predictions stating that the county was expecting fewer than 13,000 cases and 200 deaths.
About 32,779 people have been tested for COVID-19 countywide at four sites — Indio, Lake Elsinore, Perris and Riverside. A new site will open Wednesday in Blythe.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)