Riverside County reports 9,360 new coronavirus cases since Friday, nine deaths


RIVERSIDE (CNS) –  Riverside County health officials Monday, Dec. 21 reported an additional 9,360 coronavirus cases and nine virus-related deaths since Friday, along with a substantial uptick in hospitalizations from over the weekend.
The total number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March rose to 150,422, up from 141,062 on Friday, according to the Riverside University Health System.
The nine new deaths increased the overall death toll in the county to 1,753.
Riverside County does not release updated COVID-19 statistics on weekends.
COVID-positive hospitalizations countywide jumped up by 147 over the weekend to reach 1,239. That figure includes 229 intensive care unit patients, five more than Friday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the regional stay-at-home order imposed by the state for the entirety of Southern California will almost assuredly be extended beyond next week’s expiration date. The 11-county Southern California region’s available ICU capacity remained at 0% Monday, compared to 2.7% the Monday before.
The regional ICU bed metric is a key indicator for the state’s regional stay-at-home order, which went into effect on Dec. 6. The order was triggered when ICU bed availability across Southern California fell below 15%.
The mandate was initially slated to remain in effect until next Monday, but with the regional intensive-care unit capacity still officially considered to be zero, the governor said that is unlikely to happen.
The stay-at-home order impacts bars, theaters, museums, hair salons, indoor recreational facilities, amusement parks, and wineries — all of which are supposed to remain closed.
Restaurants are confined to takeout and delivery, with capacity limitations on retail outlets.
Last week, Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton told the Board of Supervisors that about 40% of all hospitalizations countywide are tied to COVID-19. ICU beds are the greatest concern, he said, with the county’s general and acute care facilities technically at maximum occupancy for licensed ICU beds.
Barton said hospitals are resorting to “surge capacity” plans to re-purpose and expand critical care space wherever possible. He did not say local medical facilities are at the point of having to transfer patients to other facilities outside the county because of overload, which has happened continuously in neighboring Imperial County.
Supervisor Chuck Washington said at the Tuesday board meeting that multiple counties, including Riverside, are requesting that the governor revise the regional definition and parcel counties into smaller sub-regions across Southern California, with the goal of modifying the ICU capacity threshold, so it could be more easily met.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 76,661, an increase of 9,345 compared to Friday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 150,422 — according to the County Executive Office.
The number of verified patient recoveries is 72,008, a figure that was unchanged compared to Friday. That figure has been under-reported in the past due to health officials being unable to confirm the status of patients in follow-up interviews.