County: Technical glitch at state level slowed new COVID-19 case reporting

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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

Despite announcing that a technical issue was causing a lag in new cases reporting, Riverside County Public Health officials Monday, Aug. 3, reported 1,120 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend bringing the total number of cases within the county to 38,131 since the county began recording data.

Day by day, the county reported 469 new cases Saturday, 500 on Sunday and 151 on Monday.

The number of new deaths reported in the county over the weekend was 42 and the total number of people that have died from the virus since the county began sits at 737. On Saturday, eight people died, 31 more on Sunday and three on Monday.

In announcing the technical issues, county health officials also cautioned residents not to get the impression that lower recorded numbers of new cases meant the county was slowing down its transmission numbers.

Officials said the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange is experiencing delays and electronic laboratory reporting is not being submitted to CalREDIE’s system in a real-time manner.

Riverside County’s positive cases in recent days may appear that the numbers are holding steady or flattening, but that’s simply not true, Kim Saruwatari, director of Riverside County Public Health, said in a county press release.

“This is an integration, technical issue,” Saruwatari said. “Simply put, there is a significant lag in how the information is being fed into the system. We’re anticipating significant increases in case reporting this week.”

Saruwatari and the county’s public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, reiterated that residents should stay vigilant in adhering to safety recommendations.

“Practicing social distancing, washing one’s hands routinely and wearing face coverings are critical steps to protecting yourself and your friends and loved ones,” Kaiser said. “We did it before, and we can do it again.”

Saruwatari said the delay impacts how public health workers can chase down cases for investigation, contact tracing and, ultimately, controlling the disease. The county’s testing positivity rate is also impacted by the delay, according to the press release.

The county said hospitalization and death rates are not impacted by the technical issue as those are reported directly to the county through a different system.

“We’re hopeful this technical issue will be resolved quickly so we can continue our fight to protect our county residents,” Saruwatari said.

On Monday, there were 27 fewer people hospitalized with the virus since Friday, July 31, for a new total of 425 hospitalizations. The county reported 133 of those patients were in intensive care units, 20 fewer than before the weekend started, but that could be attributed to the number of deaths over the weekend.

Overall, 19,699 people have recovered from the virus, 6,649 more than the Friday before, the county has tested 374,021 residents for the virus, 6,294 more over the weekend.

The county reported that there were 300 confirmed cases in county jails and another 1,235 cases recorded in state prisons within the county. Both experienced minimal case growth

Locally, Temecula added 24 cases (683), Murrieta added 21 (741), Wildomar added 10 (328), Lake Elsinore added 27 (774), Canyon Lake added one (55), Menifee added 30 (877), Hemet added 39 (1,000) and San Jacinto added 20 (699).

In local communities, Anza added no new cases (10), East Hemet added six (196), French Valley added four (201), Lakeland Village added nine (134), Valley Vista added four (135), and Winchester added no new cases (10).

Temecula added no more deaths over the weekend and, to date, three people have died from the virus in the city. There have been 16 deaths from Murrieta, six from Wildomar, 15 from Lake Elsinore, none from Canyon Lake, 12 from Menifee, 33 from Hemet, 11 from San Jacinto, none from Anza, two from East Hemet, one from French Valley, one from Lakeland Village and none from Valle Vista or Winchester.

Murrieta added two new deaths over the weekend, and San Jacinto, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar each added one new death to their totals.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was 17,695 as of Monday, a drop of 2,830 from Friday, according to figures. It is the first known decline in the active count since reporting began and was credited to a spike in verified patient recoveries, which officials said numbered 19,699.

The active number is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the overall case total – 38,131 – according to the county executive office.

The county defines a recovery as someone who has not manifested symptoms for 14 days.

The doubling time – or the number of days in which documented virus cases increase 100% – is 28 days. A doubling rate of seven days is considered severe.

During the month of July, 18,970 new cases were recorded and 232 people died in Riverside County from the coronavirus. More than 5,000 people recovered from the coronavirus and 129,808 people were tested during the month.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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