County adds walk-up COVID-19 testing sites

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As Riverside County closes in on the 120,000 mark for testing of the coronavirus, county health officials announced that new walk-in testing sites were being added in various portions of the county in hopes of getting more people to be tested and thus acquire more data on the virus.

“I am very pleased to see more testing sites open in western Riverside County. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms,” Vice Chair Karen Spiegel, 2nd District supervisor, said. “Increased testing is an important aspect of being able to reopen our businesses and region faster.”

The new walk-in testing sites were opened in Corona and San Jacinto and the Mead Valley state testing site was moved to Temecula

Testing at Corona Senior Citizens Center, 921 S. Belle Ave., in Corona and at 790 S. State St. in San Jacinto started Tuesday, May 26, and the site will continue testing Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Four other sites are drive-up locations in Indio, Lake Elsinore, Perris and Riverside.

A state-run testing site that previously operated at the Mead Valley Community Center moved to the Grace Mellman Library at 41000 County Center Drive in Temecula. Testing started at that site Tuesday, May 26, and continues Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. There are also eight state-run, walk-in testing sites located throughout Riverside County including the new location in Temecula.

Testing at any of these locations is open to anyone, whether they have symptoms or not, and there are no out-of-pocket costs to individuals. Participants will be asked to provide information about their health insurance, but they will not be charged any costs or copay and will be allowed to get tested even if they do not provide insurance information. Appointments are required at all locations to get tested.

To make an appointment, visit http://www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus/testing.

County health officials also announced recently that 51 patients stricken with the coronavirus have recently been transferred into Riverside County hospitals from Imperial County hospitals and another 12 patients originating from Imperial County have walked into county hospitals.

Bruce Barton, director of the Riverside County Emergency Management Department, said the jump in the number of COVID-19 cases landing in Riverside County hospitals is due to the fact that there are only two hospitals in Imperial County and both have reached capacity.

Temecula Valley Hospital issued a statement Thursday, May 28, regarding the issue.

“Temecula Valley Hospital has opened its doors to treat patients in the region,” hospital CEO Darlene Wetton said in a social media statement. “We are safe, trusted, ready and will help others whenever we can. We are all in this together.”

The county’s news release indicated that hospitals in neighboring counties have pitched in as well by receiving patients.

On Tuesday morning, June 2, the county reported that 119,824 people have been tested and there have been 7,982 confirmed cases. There are 195 people hospitalized countywide and 62 of those are in intensive care units.

In total, 331 county residents have died from the virus and 4,725 have recovered.

Locally, the county reported Monday that Hemet had the highest number of cases in southwest Riverside County with 279 and 21 deaths. The city of Lake Elsinore had 177 cases with 8 deaths. Murrieta had 132 cases and seven deaths, Menifee had 76 and six deaths, San Jacinto had 133 cases and five deaths, while Wildomar has 65 cases with four deaths.

As of press time Tuesday, Temecula had 146 cases and Canyon Lake reported 13, but neither city has suffered a death caused by the virus.

The county reported number totals for unincorporated areas including French Valley at 46 cases, Anza at six, Winchester at one, Valle Vista at 25, Lakeland Village at 38, and East Hemet with 29 cases. Only Lakeland Village had reported that a resident died from the virus.

On Saturday, May 30, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the death of a correctional officer who worked at the state prison in Norco and recently tested positive for COVID-19. Danny Mendoza, 53, died Saturday, according to a CDCR statement issued that did not specify whether he died at a hospital. An exact cause of death will be determined by the Riverside County coroner’s office.

The county also announced that business owners would be able to apply individual grants of up to $10,000 each beginning this week, thanks to $45 million in federal money now available to small Riverside County businesses impacted by coronavirus-related public health shutdowns.

“Ninety-six percent of businesses in Riverside County are small businesses – 50 employees or less. These grants can be used for job retention, economic preservation, payroll, working capital, to buy personal protective equipment,” Spiegel said. “This is to alleviate the hardship experienced by private for-profit businesses located in Riverside County.”

The board of supervisors was to formally vote on the process of awarding grants during its meeting Tuesday, but a website has already been established for interested parties to gather information on the requirements to apply for funds at http://www.rivcobizhelp.org.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.