COVID deaths, hospitalizations elevated countywide

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Another 1,276 coronavirus cases and two dozen additional deaths were reported Thursday, Dec. 24 in Riverside County, as hospitalizations edged higher.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March is 158,110 compared to 156,834 on Wednesday, according to the Riverside University Health System.
The number of deaths stemming from virus-related complications stands at 1,829. The death figures are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates coded as COVID-19, according to health officials. Reporting periods can go back several weeks.
The RUHS reported 1,427 COVID-positive hospitalizations countywide, up from 1,322 a day ago. That number includes 255 intensive care unit patients, eight more than Wednesday.
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 now, he said, with the county’s general and acute care facilities technically at maximum occupancy.
Barton said hospitals are resorting to “surge capacity” plans to expand critical care space wherever possible.
At the Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, some non-emergency pediatric cases are being referred to Loma Linda University Medical Center to reduce the county hospital’s load.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 81,479, up 898 compared to Wednesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 158,110 — according to the county Executive Office.
The number of verified patient recoveries is 74,802. The recovery rate is also a trailing indicator.
The county’s overall COVID-19 positive rate is 21.3%, compared to 18.5% a week ago.
The 11-county Southern California region’s available ICU capacity is officially at 0%.
The regional ICU bed metric is a key benchmark for Gov. Gavin Newsom’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 is expected to remain in effect until bed capacities recover.
Supervisor Chuck Washington said last week multiple counties 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 attained.
The current 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.