RIVERSIDE — Riverside County Public Health officials reported 546 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 20 new deaths associated with the virus. In the first two days of the week, there have been a total of 922 new cases reported countywide. 

The 20 new deaths reported, including one more in Hemet yesterday, brings the total number of deaths from the virus to 506 since the county began recording data.

Also, 23 more people were hospitalized with the virus since Monday, for a new total of 518 hospitalizations. The county reported 130 of those patients were in intensive care units, no change from the day before.

Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton said Tuesday that 10 prisoners from state penitentiaries are in hospitals within the county, while four patients from hard-hit Imperial County are in them.

Imperial County’s two functioning hospitals have been operating over capacity for the last two months, and an untold number of patients have been transferred to multiple jurisdictions statewide for care.

Overall, 8,896 people have recovered from the virus, and so far, the county has tested 264,915 residents.

Locally on Tuesday, Murrieta saw the highest number of new cases, with 20 more than reported the day before and 376 cases overall. Temecula added 11 (345 cases), Wildomar added three (158), Lake Elsinore added 12 new cases (363), Canyon Lake added one (27), Menifee added 14 new cases (410), Hemet added 12 (540) and San Jacinto added five (381).

In local communities, Anza saw no new cases (6), East Hemet added three new cases (94), French Valley added eight new cases (114), Lakeland Village added none (64), Valley Vista added none (70), and Winchester still has two confirmed cases of the virus.

The county reported that there were 257 confirmed cases in county jails, one more than yesterday, and another 1,069 cases recorded in state prisons within the county.

“The positivity rate in coronavirus testing is 15.9%,” county Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “The state threshold is 8%. We are closely monitoring testing.”

Bruce Barton told the board that of the county’s 17 hospitals, six are operating at maximum capacity. But they are “not overwhelmed” because all of the medical facilities are able to add spare cushion on short notice, exceeding licensed capacities by 30% if necessary, as happened during the 2017 flu outbreak, he said.

Sub acute bed space countywide is at 68% capacity, while 94% of designated ICU beds are occupied, but less than a third of those are COVID-19 patients, according to Barton.

City News Service contributed to this report.