Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco released a video Friday afternoon criticizing Governor Gavin Newsom and said that the department won't be "blackmailed" into enforcing the pending stay-at-home orders.
Newsom announced the new regional stay-at-home orders on Thursday. The orders go into effect when the ICU bed capacity in a region falls below 15%. It isn't currently in effect in any of the state's five regions, but Newsom said it could be triggered within the "within a day or two."
The order would see barbershops and hair salons close, limits restaurants to take-out and delivery only, and sets a 20% capacity for retail stores and shopping centers. Hotels and lodging are may remain open for critical infrastructure support, as can offices.
When asked about how he would get counties to enforce this order, Newsom said that the state would look into redirecting funding from counties that don't enforce to other counties that do.
In a video published Friday night on the Sheriff's Department Youtube page, Bianco called out Newsom for threatening to withhold funding from counties.
"Ironically, it wasn't that long ago that our same governor loudly and publicly argued how wrong it was for the President of the United States to withhold federal funding from states not complying with federal laws," Bianco said.
He then called some of Newsom's actions and attitude during the pandemic "extremely hypocritical."
"The dictatorial attitude toward California residents while dining in luxury, traveling, keeping his business open, and sending his kids to in-person private schools is very telling about his attitude towards California residents," Bianco said.
One of the things Bianco is alluding to is earlier this month when Newsom was caught attending a birthday dinner at The French Laundry in Yountville in Napa County
Bianco called the new restrictions and orders "flat-out ridiculous" and the metrics used to determine restrictions "unbelievably faulty." He added that it is not representative of the actual numbers for Riverside County.
The winter months are typically the busiest months of the year for hospitals.
He added that the hospitals are currently struggling with "normal seasonal increases" in patients coupled with COVID patients and said it was irresponsible to withhold funding and support from these hospitals.
"It appears part of the new goal is to shift attention away from his and others personal behavior with a 'Do as I say, not as I do,' attitude by turning public opinion against California Sheriffs," Bianco said.
He said the Riverside County Sheriff's Department won't be blackmailed or bullied by threats into enforcing the orders
"Leaders do not threaten, attempt to intimidate, or cause fear, bullies do," Bianco said.
Bianco once again said while they are not enforcing the orders, they are asking residents to act responsibly and do what they can to protect themselves and their families from the virus such as wearing a mask and social distancing.
As of Friday, Dec. 4, Riverside County currently has its highest ever number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, topping the previous record in late-July by over 100 patients.
According to Riverside University Public Health, hospitalizations in the county have continued to increase since Nov. 5, when hospitalizations were at 201. As of Dec. 4, there are 658 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The number of patients in the county's ICUs is not as grim, although it is nearing the previous record high of 167 set in late-July.
Dr. Alan Williamson, chief medical officer at Eisenhower Health, said the hospital could facing a potential staffing shortage amid its annual holiday season surge of patients.
At Eisenhower Health, 72% of the hospital's 367 beds were full, including regular beds, intensive care unit beds and COVID-specific beds. Hospital staff was treating 50 COVID-positive patients, a figure that includes
six patients in intensive care units. ICU beds were 62% full, the hospital staff reported.
The hospital's coronavirus patients are at about 60% of what the hospital experienced in July, when about 90 patients sought treatment. The hospital also struggled with staffing at the time, prompting federal support to assist.
Despite record hospitalizations, the county has not reported any medical facility at or over capacity. Riverside County has more than 1,200 general and ICU beds available, but that doesn't include emergency capacity, in which hospital floors are converted to critical care space, adding more beds as required.
Stay with News Channel 3 for any updates.