64 new coronavirus cases, 1 new fatality in Riverside County

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A lamppost in a parking lot on Temecula Parkway in Temecula is shown tagged with the word “corona.” The parking lot is nearly deserted as many people stayed home during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Will Fritz photo

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County health officials today confirmed 64 more cases of coronavirus and an additional fatality, bringing the countywide case total to 493 and the death toll to 14.

The latest death was a man in his 80s from Eastvale, according Jose Arballo, a spokesman for the Riverside University Health System.

Ten additional recoveries were also reported Thursday, bringing that total to 50 since the first case of coronavirus was reported within Riverside County on March 8.

“We do expect that number to continue rising,” Arballo said. “There are some people that will get through it.”

The number of cases, however, is also anticipated to continue rising. On Tuesday, county health officials estimated that by April 12, all 102 of the county’s intensive care unit beds could be full. By April 22, all hospital beds could fill up, as well.

All 172 available ventilators — equipment which helps patients breathe when they can’t do so on their own — could be in use by April 26, according to the modeling.

The RUHS estimated that 3,000 ICU beds would be needed by early May, along with 9,000 regular hospital beds, noting that the virus numbers double every 4.7 days. By early May, 1,000 people could die and about 30,000 people be infected by COVID-19, according to the health system.

More than 5,000 Riverside County residents have been tested for the virus as of numbers available Thursday, Arballo said.

The local mortality rate remains slightly over 1%, according to officals. By comparison, Los Angeles County is reporting a 1.8% mortality rate.

On Thursday, a 15-year Riverside County Sheriff’s Department veteran who was most recently assigned to the Murrieta jail died from coronavirus, the department announced, marking the first death among the agency’s ranks due to the pandemic.

Deputy Terrell Young leaves behind a wife and four children, according to the sheriff’s department. Young was the first deputy to test positive for COVID-19. As of Monday, three Riverside sheriff’s deputies, including Young, had tested positive.

Officials on Thursday also announced all schools will remain shuttered until June 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The move effectively closes schools through the end of the academic school year, although it remains unclear if individual school districts will adjust their schedules in the future.

All four Riverside County animal shelters were ordered closed to the public Thursday for an indefinite period because of the coronavirus emergency and the need to promote containment measures — but adoptions will continue with fee waivers, the Department of Animal Services reported.

To encourage adoptions, the agency is waiving all adoption fees — including microchipping and spay/neuter costs — during the shutdown, according to agency spokesman John Welsh. He noted that dog license charges will continue because that’s a state requirement, and the cost of a license is about $20 per canine.

A third county-run drive-thru testing location opened Wednesday at Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Riverside. The testing is by appointment only, with the location open Tuesday through Saturday. Arballo said about 70 tests were done the first day.

Drive-thru testing is also available in the parking lot at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. The testing site is on the same property as two buildings that members of the California National Guard converted into a 125-bed medical facility to be staffed by 30 to 40 doctors, nurses, technicians and volunteers.

Arballo said Thursday that the facility is ready to begin accepting patients, but noted it was not clear when the patients would begin arriving.

Officials want temporary hospitals set up to be treating non-critically ill patients — including those being treated for illnesses other than coronavirus — before the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases hits.
Another 125-bed temporary hospital is slated to be set up in western Riverside County, but that location has not yet been identified.

An additional COVID-19 screening location is situated at Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore, where appointment-only patients can get drive-thru service between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Sundays to Thursdays. Anyone who lives within a 50-mile radius of the Riverside metropolitan area can access the site.

People who want to get tested must call 800-945-6171 to be screened for specific symptoms. Appointments for the Lake Elsinore site can also be made online at www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19.