Riverside County COVID-19 cases trend higher, hospitalizations climb

A county health representative prepares to administer COVID-19 tests. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Riverside County’s number of new COVID-19 cases continued to trend higher day-by-day, and hospitalizations within the county continue to inch higher as well.

Riverside County health officials reported 400 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and two additional deaths Friday, Nov. 6.

The RUHS reported 208 COVID-19-positive hospitalizations, up seven overnight and that total included 54 ICU patients – down three from two days earlier.

The number of residents hospitalized Friday was the highest it has been since Sept. 1. The number of ICU patients is down since Oct. 27, but it was still high compared to September.

Bruce Barton, county director of emergency management, told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Nov. 3, that the hospitalization rates have been gradually ascending over the last month, but he noted they are well below the mid-July highs, when nearly 600 people were hospitalized.

“Hospitals and clinics have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, so those who really need care (for anything) need to come to our hospitals,” Barton said. “They are safe.”

The two deaths reported Friday brought the total of county residents who have succumbed to the coronavirus to 1,333 since the county began keeping track of the data back in March.

In all, 70,696 residents have tested positive for the virus since March and 62,589 have recovered.

The number of known active cases countywide is 6,774, an increase of 56 since Thursday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total – 70,696 – according to the county executive office.

The number of verified patient recoveries is 62,589.

Kim Saruwatari, director of the county Department of Public Health, told the supervisors that coronavirus screenings have increased significantly.

“A lot of outreach and work was done to increase testing, and that has been successful,” Saruwatari said. “We have increased tremendously.”

She said the county is now at a ratio of 236.4 per 100,000 residents for COVID-19 screenings, compared to 221.6 per 100,000 two weeks ago. The state threshold for large counties is 239.1. However, that figure can be adjusted, and the county is no longer being downgraded for low testing volume.

The county’s coronavirus positivity rate is 5.9%, up slightly from last week, and Saruwatari attributed part of the uptick to an ongoing elevated number of infections recorded in the eastern Coachella Valley.

The California Department of Public Health has calculated the county’s COVID-19 case rate at 11.5 per 100,000.

The Corona-Norco Unified School District received health officials’ approval to begin classes at all grade levels beginning this month, leaving it to the district’s board to set a date, it was announced Tuesday.

“This is one of the largest waiver applications in the state in terms of schools and students,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, said. “We’ve reviewed the district’s precautions and safety plans and they meet all current state criteria for precautions. We want kids back in school, but we want to do it safely, and this will not only give us that chance but also the real-world understanding of how we can safely operate large school districts during the pandemic.”

The waiver, authorized by both the county Department of Public Health and California Department of Public Health, does not translate to an immediate opening, district officials said.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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