Riverside County reports 745 new COVID-19 cases, six new deaths

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RIVERSIDE — Riverside County Public Health officials reported on Wednesday 745 new cases of COVID-19 a one-day record total since the Department of Public Health began tracking data related to the virus back in March.

The number of new cases is the county’s highest single-day increase since the pandemic began. The county’s previous largest one-day increase was Tuesday, when 662 new cases were reported.

The number of new deaths on Tuesday, 6, is lower than the 17 deaths reported on Tuesday. The number of deaths reported that day was more than the total number of deaths during the entire prior week (15 from June 23-29).

Also, 14 more people were hospitalized since Tuesday, for a new total of 417 hospitalizations. The county reported 117 of those patients were in intensive care units, eight more than Tuesday.

Overall, 8,046 people have recovered from the virus, which represents a jump of 192 newly-healthy patients since Tuesday. So far, the county has tested 237,919 residents for the virus.

Locally on Tuesday, Menifee saw the highest number of new cases, with 18 more than reported on Tuesday and 345 cases overall. Temecula added 13 (282 cases), Wildomar added 4 (131), Lake Elsinore added 11 new cases (300), Canyon Lake added two (23), Murrieta added 17 new cases (294), Hemet added 14 (461), and San Jacinto added 11 (318).

In local communities, Lakeland Village added one new case (61), East Hemet added four new cases (78), Valley Vista added six new cases (56) and French Valley added six new cases (90). Anza saw no new cases. None of the communities suffered a new death caused by the virus.

The county reported that there were 252 confirmed cases in county jails with 207 recoveries and another 1,057 cases recorded in state prisons countywide.

Gov. Gavin Newsom today implemented a ban on indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, family entertainment centers, cardrooms, theaters and museums in what he termed a precautionary move to address the “particularly concerning” spike in infections in 19 counties on the state’s “watch list.”

Riverside County is on the list and will be among the places where multi-agency strike teams are deployed to interface with proprietors to insist on compliance with health protocols, such as social distancing and mask usage.

The new state mandate barring indoor activities at the venues is slated to last three weeks.

On Monday, county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser, acting on a recommendation from the California Department of Public Health, ordered all bars shut down countywide.

Kaiser on Tuesday the Board of Supervisors that bars “are difficult locations to control COVID-19. After they opened on June 12, cases started to climb,” he said.

Bars had previously been shut down as part of the governor’s stay-at- home order issued March 19.

Health officials have said recent demonstrations calling for law enforcement reform in Riverside County and elsewhere were likely additional hotbeds for viral contact.

According to Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari, the county’s positivity rate for COVID-19 screening is running close to 12%, while the state’s preferred benchmark is 8%. She said the infection rate translates to 202 per 100,000 residents.

Saruwatari told the board that the “doubling rate” — when the number of COVID-19 cases increases 100% over a given period — is at 27 days.

The metric is considered a key indicator of moderation or intensification of viral spread. It is in the severe category when the doubling rate is seven days.

Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton told the board that the hospital bed usage rate countywide has been between 61% and 68% in recent days, while the intensive care unit bed usage has been between 95% and 99%. But Barton said most hospitals have the ability to quickly add bed space beyond their licensed capacities.

He said during the 2017 flu pandemic that hit the county and other parts of the state and country, some local hospitals were operating in excess of their licensed capacities by 30%.

The EMD director said only about one quarter of the ICU beds countywide were currently needed for COVID-19 patients, numbering 117 who require intensive care. The rest were being utilized by stroke, lung and other patients.

The governor last week ordered all California residents to wear face coverings in most settings outside their homes to help slow the spread of the virus.

Riverside County had previously rescinded its mask mandate, and the county was advancing into stage 3 of the governor’s four-stage public health de- regulation plan. But with COVID-19 cases spiking, and the renewed restrictions announced, that process is now on hold.

City News Service contributed to this report.