The year’s first heat wave continues to bear down on the Inland Empire Saturday, raising concerns about those confined indoors without air conditioning due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Riverside County health officials eased pool usage guidelines on Friday for those seeking relief, allowing swimmers to enjoy private pools, like those at motels, apartment complexes or county clubs.
However, only one swimmer is allowed in the pool at a time under the new rules. Gatherings in pool areas remains barred, unless a parent is watching a child in the pool, officials said.
Officials also urged seniors to remain in their homes with the air conditioning turned up, adding that the Riverside County Office of Aging is prepared to help seniors pay their utility bills.
Seniors lacking air conditioning at home can also call 211 to see if other assistance is available, health officials said.
According to forecasters, the high in Riverside will be 96 Saturday, while in Palm Springs, the mercury will exceed 100, and the Temecula Valley will enjoy slightly cooler temps, in the low 90s.
Meteorologists said temperatures will moderate Sunday night through Monday, but another spike into the 90s for most of the region is predicted Tuesday and Wednesday, as a ridge of high pressure builds over the region.
According to the latest figures from the Riverside University Health System, the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Riverside County stood at 3,315 with 112 deaths. Officials said 222 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 countywide and 83 of those are in an intensive care unit. As of Friday, there have been 957 documented recoveries.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said last week that cases are growing at a much slower rate, telling the Riverside County Board of Supervisors that “targeted” removals of restrictions tied to the COVID-19 emergency may continue in the coming weeks.
Projections by County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser and other county health officials earlier this month predicted far broader burdens on health care resources by this point. Earlier statistical modeling had showed the possibility of 65,000 infections and 1,000 deaths by the first week of May.
But officials altered their predictions Wednesday, saying the county is now expecting one-fifth of those numbers — fewer than 13,000 cases and 200 deaths.
All county residents are eligible for coronavirus screenings if they make appointments over the phone in advance. Tests were previously reserved for symptomatic patients, but county officials said the policy was changed in order to collect more data about the virus’ spread in an effort to pinpoint when containment measures can be eased.
Figures show 36,082 people have been tested at five RUHS-run sites — in Blythe, Indio, Lake Elsinore, Perris and Riverside.