Riverside County reports 8,244 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 36 deaths

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County Friday, Dec. 18 reported 8,244 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, the second-highest daily total since the pandemic began, along with three dozen virus-related deaths and an uptick in hospitalizations.
Health officials attributed the size of the increase to a backlog in testing results, which they also said was the case when reporting 10,949 cases — the highest daily total — on Dec. 8, according to Jose Arballo, a spokesman for the Riverside University Health System.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March is 141,062, compared to 132,818 on Thursday, according to RUHS data.
The 36 fatalities reported Friday brings the county’s coronavirus death toll to 1,744. Three of the deaths date back to last month, with the rest occurring since Dec. 4, Arballo said.
The case rate and death figures continue to be lagging indicators because of delays in processing laboratory test results and death certificates that are coded as COVID-19, officials said earlier this week.
COVID-positive hospitalizations increased countywide Friday to 1,092, up 38 from the day before. That figure includes 224 intensive care unit patients, eight more than Thursday.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 67,316, an increase of 7,739 compared to Thursday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 141,062 — according to the county Executive Office.
The number of verified patient recoveries is 72,008. That figure has increased less than 10% in the last four weeks and has previously been under-reported due to health officials being unable to confirm the status of patients in follow-up interviews.
The county’s overall COVID-19 positivity rate is 18.5%, compared to 14.8% a week ago. Health officials have noted that increases in testing lead to proportionally higher case numbers, which don’t necessarily translate to medical need, except for quarantine. Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said Tuesday that the testing rate countywide is now 576 per 100,000 population. Two months ago, it was less than half that amount.
The 11-county Southern California region’s available ICU capacity remained at 0% Friday, compared to 6.2% the Friday before.