Hospitalizations and deaths continued to rise at the end of last week as Riverside County braces for a possible threat of moving back into the purple tier due to poor numbers reported to the state.
On Friday, Oct. 9, Riverside County health officials reported 408 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, along with eight additional virus-related deaths.
Also Friday, the number of county residents in the hospital due to COVID-19 jumped by 10 overnight to 145, a number that hasn’t been reached since before Sept. 25. There were 39 county residents in intensive care units as well.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 infections recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March stood at 61,824, compared to 61,416 the day before, according to the Riverside University Health System.
The agency said the number of deaths tied to COVID-19 stands at 1,256 since they began collecting data back in March.
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton told the board of supervisors that virus-related hospitalizations had “stabled off” over the last month, saying the patient count was fluctuating between 120 and 140.
The number of known active cases countywide was 4,538, a growth of 179 overnight. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total of 61,824, according to the county Executive Office. Overall, the number of people that have recovered from the virus was put at 56,030 Friday afternoon.
Kim Saruwatari, director of county Public Health, told the board of supervisors that the county’s testing positivity rate is now 5%, down a full percentage point compared to three weeks ago.
However, the county is averaging 6.8 positive cases a day per 100,000 population, with an adjusted rate of 7.6 per 100,000 because testing volumes are below the state median for large counties, according to the California Department of Public Health.
There are 13 screening sites countywide, and they can be found at http://gettested.ruhealth.org.
The county’s top public health official, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, told the board the county was in danger of being relegated to the purple tier.
Despite that information, the board voted in favor of a modified approach to reopening economic sectors, adhering to CDPH health safety guidelines but giving county CEO George Johnson authority to relax public health regulations impacting businesses and other entities on a schedule that falls outside the state’s mandates, if he chooses.
“We’re not fully open today,” Supervisor Karen Spiegel said, who joined Kevin Jeffries, Manuel Perez and Chuck Washington in voting for the plan. “We’re still going right along with the state (on health safety measures).”
“Cities can (still) proceed with enforcement,” Jeffries said. “And businesses should know that if they don’t adhere to state guidelines, an employee can complain to Cal OSHA. So businessman or woman, make your decisions.”
Both he and Spiegel pointed out that many entities need a state-issued license to legally operate.
“If you have a state license and you’re going against the state, we cannot help you,” Spiegel said.
Supervisor Jeff Hewitt introduced the reopening concept, Sept. 22, and he ended up being the sole vote in opposition. The supervisor expressed concern that if the target dates he had originally proposed for clearing sectors to resume operation were removed, it would dilute the message that the county had set near-term goals that could be achieved.
His three-phase plan called for the county to support reopening virtually all sectors by the first week of November.
“We don’t need the state, which knows nothing about Riverside County,” Hewitt said.
As of Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries by city and community:
Confirmed Cases: 1,151
Confirmed Cases: 1,302
Confirmed Cases: 598
Confirmed Cases: 1,265
Confirmed Cases: 117
Confirmed Cases: 1,566
Confirmed Cases: 1,754
Confirmed Cases: 16
Confirmed Cases: 370
Confirmed Cases: 349
Confirmed Cases: 221
Confirmed Cases: 236
Confirmed Cases: 23
Daily 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.