Riverside County confirmed coronavirus cases pass 1,000; deaths at 28


RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Confirmed coronavirus cases in Riverside County passed the 1,000 mark today, with health officials reporting 70 more cases and three additional fatalities.

The county now has 1,016 confirmed cases and 28 deaths. The number of recovered patients increased by seven, to 67.

Federal, state and local officials continue to warn of an upcoming surge in cases and deaths, which Dr. Geoffrey Leung of the Riverside University Health System said Friday could mean 65,000 cases, 11,000 hospitalizations and 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19 by the beginning of May in Riverside County.

Leung, however, stressed that staying home and frequent hand washing could help Riverside County flatten the curve, along with increased testing, wearing face coverings, closing all nonessential businesses and gathering places, and enforcing local orders designed to protect the public.

“If we can do one of these things well … we believe we can decrease the number of cases and deaths by 50%. If we can do three of these things well, we believe we can decrease the hospitalizations, the cases and the deaths by 75%, saving nearly 700 or 800 lives or more,” Leung said, “but we have to do them well, and we have to do them now.”

Over the weekend, Riverside County’s public health officer issued orders making it mandatory for anyone leaving home to wear a face covering and barring all outside gatherings, except for those between family members residing in the same home.

County officials initially announced law enforcement agencies throughout the county would enforce the orders “as they deem necessary,” although Sheriff Chad Bianco said Monday that his department would not ticket residents who defy the directives.

It remains unclear how the police departments in cities that do not contract with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department planned to enforce them.

The ban on gatherings excludes essential businesses, such as healthcare offices, grocery stores and gas stations. However, those businesses must use social-distancing measures to keep clients and customers 6 feet apart and all employees must wear face coverings, Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s order states.

Additionally, all houses of worship are prohibited from all in-person gatherings, including drive-in religious services.

On Monday, county health officials said there may be an undercount in coronavirus-related deaths, noting that the six fatalities reported that day were confirmed post-mortem and previous deaths continue to be reviewed for possible COVID-19 connections.

Drive-thru testing is available at three locations by appointment only in Riverside County, including Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Riverside and the parking lot the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, both operational Tuesday through Saturday.

Testing at Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore is open Sunday to Thursday, and can be accessed by anyone who lives within a 50-mile radius of the Riverside metropolitan area.

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.