RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County’s coronavirus toll stands today at 2,847 cases and 85 deaths after county health officials reported 209 new confirmed cases and 10 more fatalities.

Of the 236 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 76 are in intensive care units, an increase from Sunday, according to the Riverside University Health System. The number of people who have recovered from the virus is up by 58 over Sunday’s numbers, for a total of 700.

Though the infection rate has “plummeted precipitously” compared to earlier projections, the county’s public health officer said last week it’s too early to tell when the process of relaxing mitigation measures might begin.

“The majority of the population is doing what we asked,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser said Friday. “People are taking appropriate precautions and following the orders that were issued. But we could still go back in the wrong direction. We need to know where our weak points are.”

Two weeks ago, the county was indicating that statistical modeling showed the possibility of 65,000 infections and 1,000 deaths by the first week of May. But health officials altered their predictions Wednesday, saying the county is now expecting one-fifth of those numbers — less than 13,000 cases and 200 deaths.

The so-called “doubling rate,” a key metric RUHS officials have pointed to as an indication of unchecked viral spread, has also fallen. As of last Wednesday, it was taking more than a week for confirmed cases to double, an improvement from two weeks ago, when the number was less than five days.

“Cases have plummeted precipitously,” Kaiser said last week. “But it’s too soon to lift our foot from the gas pedal. We’re getting close. As the situation changes … we will be looking at recommendations for many things. But we don’t have enough understanding of our case load to put us past the (emergency) order.”

All Riverside County residents can now get tested for the coronavirus if they make appointments over the phone in advance.

Tests were previously reserved for only symptomatic patients, but health 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.

Kaiser said on Friday he’s concerned about the lack of youth COVID-19 infections, fearing an unknown number of children may be dormant carriers of the virus, raising the potential of renewed spread.

“We don’t know how many are out there,” he said. “We will need time to find out and right-size our response.”

About 32,779 people have been tested countywide at the four RUHS-run sites — in Indio, Lake Elsinore, Perris and Riverside. A new site opens Wednesday in Blythe.

It was previously announced the county can test up to 10,000 people per week.

City News Service (CNS)