County officials urge residents to get tested for COVID-19

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Health care workers conduct coronavirus testing at Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore managed and operated by Riverside University Health System Public Health Department. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Riverside County health officials said only about half of the capacity the county has to conduct COVID-19 tests was being utilized by residents and urged people to get tested, whether they had symptoms or not.

In all, 575,906 residents have been tested and 16,617 have been tested through Thursday, Sept. 10.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, Riverside County led the state in per capita testing,” Kim Saruwatari, director of Riverside University Health System Public Health, said. “We need to pick up our testing again – for both the purpose of isolating the sick and to help us safely reopen more parts of our community.”

Though Riverside County has the volume to test 4,000 people a day, only half that number have been getting tested at county and state testing sites in recent weeks, RUHS officials said recently.

They believe it is partly due to more private providers offering antigen and antibody testing, which is not calculated in the state’s testing metric for active infections.

There are 13 screening sites countywide, and they can be found at http://gettested.ruhealth.org.

Officials reported 693 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, Sept. 14, and 15 deaths since Friday, bringing the total number of cases within the county to 55,766 since the county began recording data.

Day by day, the county reported 338 new cases Saturday, 91 on Sunday and 264 on Monday.

The total number of people that have died from the virus since the county began now sits at 1,118. The county reported 10 deaths Saturday, none on Sunday and five on Monday.

There were 29 fewer people hospitalized with the virus since Friday, for a new total of 151 hospitalizations. The county reported 48 of those patients were in intensive care units, five less than before the weekend started.

Overall, 50,589 people have recovered from the virus, 976 more than the Friday before, the county has tested 575,906 residents for the virus.

The county reported that there were 403 confirmed cases in county jails and another 1,944 cases recorded in state prisons within the county. Prisons have experienced more than 100 new cases over the weekend.

On Aug. 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a four-tier, color-coded system that’s used to assess the speed at which to loosen public health regulations impacting businesses, some of which have permanently closed countywide. The county remains in the most restrictive purple tier, requiring many indoor enterprises to remain shut down or to limit capacity.

In order for the county to move to the next level, the red tier, it has to document fewer than seven new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population on a rolling seven-day average, and the positivity testing rate must be less than 8% in the same period.

The county reached the positivity rate that will allow it to move to the red tier (7.8%), but the case rate remains higher than the state’s requirement, RUHS officials said. The state began adjusting the case rate higher for counties that are not meeting the state’s daily average testing volume, which brought Riverside County’s case rate from 7.4 to 8.6, according to the RUHS.

Locally, Temecula has recorded 1,007 cases, 10 deaths and 930 residents have recovered. Murrieta’s totals are 1,153/21/1,040, Wildomar 546/14/478, Lake Elsinore 1,189/20/1,104, Canyon Lake 99/2/86, Menifee 1,414/25/1,207, Hemet 1,620/59/1,457, San Jacinto 1,081/23/995, Anza 13/0/13, East Hemet 330/6/283, French Valley 310/1/285, Lakeland Village 209/2/190, Valle Vista 225/5/194 and Winchester 20/18.

Weekday updates and more information on coronavirus in Riverside County can be found on the county’s website, https://www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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