Newsom orders purple tier curfew amid COVID surge: County under new mandates as case counts rise

“We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge. We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time. Letting our guard down could put thousands of lives in danger and cripple our health care system,” said California’s acting Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan.

Per the Office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a statewide “limited stay at home order” with curfew requirements impacting counties in the most restrictive COVID-19 tier (purple, “widespread”) – to include Riverside County – takes effect Saturday, Nov. 21.

“In light of an unprecedented, rapid rise in COVID-19 cases across California, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today (Nov. 19) announced a limited Stay at Home Order requiring generally that non-essential work, movement and gatherings stop between 10 (p.m.) and 5 (a.m.) in counties in the purple tier. The order will take effect at 10 (p.m.) Saturday, November 21 and remain in effect until 5 (a.m.) December 21. This is the same as the March Stay at Home Order, but applied only between 10 (p.m.) and 5 (a.m.) and only in purple tier counties that are seeing the highest rates of positive cases and hospitalizations.”

The order came four days following Newsom’s public apology for attending a previous birthday dinner at the three-star Michelin French Laundry restaurant in Napa County – a decision the lawmaker called “a bad mistake.”

As stated by CDPH, COVID case rates have increased approximately 50% statewide during the first week of November alone.

“We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge. We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time. Letting our guard down could put thousands of lives in danger and cripple our health care system,” said California’s acting Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan. “It is especially important that we band together to protect those most vulnerable around us as well as essential workers who are continuing their critical work amidst this next wave of widespread community transmission across the state. Together we prevented a public health crisis in the spring and together we can do it again.”

As of Nov. 19, Riverside University Health System – Public Health’s (RUHS-PH) public COVID data portal reports the cumulative case count for Blythe to be 455, with 409 recovered, and four deaths.

Cumulative case count for zip code of residence 92225 is reported at 554, with 496 recovered.

Both figures exclude case count numbers of the two area California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisons.

“This order does not apply to persons experiencing homelessness,” states Pan’s CDPH Limited Stay at Home Order.

Locally, two days preceding the Nov. 19 limited stay at home order, Palo Verde Hospital (PVH) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sandra Anaya raised significant and ongoing concerns regarding the increase in COVID patients being treated at the rural facility by an already-limited and strained staff of frontline healthcare workers.

“Every day, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in the emergency room. We are treating patients who do not know how they contracted the virus. We are treating patients who refused to social distance and refused to wear a mask in public. We are treating patients who went to a large gathering and failed to take the proper precautions. We are dealing with multiple patients at a time, coming from institutions that may not have put their best efforts in place to take preventive measures,” noted Anaya in a guest column to the Times. “Every time we treat a COVID-19 patient who has not taken the scientific approved precautions to be safe, we are diverting resources from other patients who may have non-COVID-19 critical illnesses. Patients who may be having a heart attack. Patients who have had traumatic injuries. Patients who have non-COVID-19 respiratory conditions.”

PVH is further dealing with substantial challenges regarding shortages, back-order and/or delivery delays as it relates to supplies, equipment, COVID drug treatment resources, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

“There are no physician specialists in Blythe. No pulmonologists, no infectious disease physicians, and no cardiologists to care for patients in the facility or who may have COVID-related complications. This is despite all efforts to recruit or to affiliate with larger organizations,” noted Anaya, further underlining what the problem of tapped outside facilities may soon mean for Blythe patients needing critical transferred care. “We continue to stabilize and transfer. The reality, though, is that sometimes it is taking 48 hours to transfer patients and find an accepting receiving facility. And although we do our best, like other rural facilities, we have limited resources and a limited number of practitioners (...) We will soon be faced with the reality of not finding an accepting facility to receive a patient from our community. There are many facets to the stark reality of COVID-19 and its effects on a small community hospital. Positivity rates are increasing in Riverside County. We cannot, as a community, mask the truth.”

(Note: To read the contributed guest column by Palo Verde Hospital [PVH] Chief Executive Officer [CEO] Sandra Anaya, in-full, visit the following link: PVH underlines local COVID-19 impact: ‘COVID-19 is real’)

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