Riverside County reports rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths continued to climb in Riverside County, according to data reported by health officials Friday, Nov. 27.
According to the Riverside University Health System, 498 patients infected with coronavirus were hospitalized countywide as of Friday, up from 455 on Wednesday.
County health officials did not update their coronavirus numbers Thursday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The number of patients infected with COVID-19 in intensive care units stands at 115 — down by one since Wednesday.
Another 343 newly confirmed coronavirus cases brings the aggregate number of infections recorded countywide since the public health documentation period began in early March to 82,286, compared to 81,943 on Wednesday.
The three newly reported fatalities brings the county’s coronavirus death toll to 1,437.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 14,147, an increase of 120 compared to Wednesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 82,286 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 66,702.
At a county briefing on Tuesday focused on the surge in infections, RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung said hospitals throughout the region “are starting to feel the strain. But the hospitals are much better prepared this time. They are in the initial stages of surge planning.”
“I think this (surge) will be a little different,” said Leung, referring to the amount of preparation that occurred over the summer to ensure facilities have the resources on hand to address heavier caseloads.
That sentiment has been repeatedly echoed by county Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton, who recently assured the Board of Supervisors that facilities have access to sufficient personal protective equipment and have made arrangements for excess capacity if and when it’s required.
Leung said residents who have any type of critical medical need should not delay care because facilities are following protocols to separate the contagious from the non-contagious.
The county’s peak in hospitalizations occurred in mid-July, when nearly 600 coronavirus patients were under general and intensive care. RUHS officials said if current trends continue, that number will be exceeded in December.
The county has more than 1,000 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.
Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said the county now has a state-adjusted COVID-19 case rate of 27.2 per 100,000 residents, compared to 22 per 100,000 two weeks ago, and an overall state-calculated positivity rate of  9.9%, up from 8.9% two weeks ago.
The county’s testing level is at 300 per 100,000. The revised state threshold for large counties is 272 per 100,000.