Riverside County wants young adults to get tested for COVID-19

Riverside County’s public health department is requesting that young adults and minors ages 25 and younger get tested at one of the county or state’s COVID-19 testing facilities. To date, just more than 6% of everyone in that age group has been tested. Valley News/Shane Gibson file photo

Citing a belief that young adults in Riverside County are underrepresented in testing data, the Riverside County University Health System is asking residents ages 25 and younger to be screened.

There is no cost to the person being tested at either the county or state-operated facilities.

“We would like to get a more complete picture of the illness as it has spread among young people,” Kim Saruwatari, director of public health for Riverside County, said. “This will help us better understand who in the community has the disease and how it might be moving among children and families.”

The county reported that residents 18 and younger represent nearly 25% of the county’s population, but so far, only 6.6% of the testing appointments were for a person in that age bracket.

“More than 71,000 people have been tested in Riverside County – at the county- and state-run testing sites, clinics, hospitals and private facilities – and health officials say it is important that all segments of the population get tested to help determine the spread of coronavirus in the community,” according to a press release from the county.

The county currently operates drive-up testing sites in Indio, Perris, Riverside and Lake Elsinore. Appointments are required, along with parent permission for minors.

To make an appointment, call 800-945-6171.

Appointments are also required at the eight state-operated walk-up testing sites which include Hemet, Norco, Perris, Mecca and Desert Hot Springs. Visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting or call 888-634-1123 to book an appointment at those facilities.

“Testing is for everyone, regardless of immigration status or insurance, and it is free,” V. Manuel Perez, Riverside County board chair and 4th District supervisor, said. “Testing has been expanded to be available for those with and without symptoms, and we encourage our young people to get themselves tested at one of our many testing sites.”

As of Tuesday, May 12, more than 73,000 Riverside County residents have been tested for the coronavirus, which accounts for more than 2% of the county’s population of nearly 2.5 million.

To date, 217 have died from the virus and the case total to 5,189 confirmed cases of coronavirus. There were 199 county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 and the total number of people who have recovered from the virus stood at 2,645.

That same day, the county reported that Hemet had the highest number of cases in southwest Riverside County with 213 and 14 deaths. The city of Lake Elsinore had 119 cases with seven deaths.

As of press time Tuesday, Temecula had 111 cases and Canyon Lake reported 12 and both cities had no deaths reported.

Menifee had 129, Murrieta had 106, San Jacinto had 94, and Wildomar had 58 cases of coronavirus and each city reported that four people had died from the virus.

The county reported number totals for unincorporated areas including French Valley at 39 cases, Anza at six, Winchester at one, Valle Vista at 10, Lakeland Village at 30 and East Hemet with 16 cases. Only Lakeland Village had reported that a resident died from the virus.

The report came just two days after Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer of the Riverside County University Health System, signed a revised health order for the county at the behest of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

After pushing back a decision during a regularly scheduled meeting of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, May 5, the supervisors voted to rescind and amend extended orders by Kaiser Friday, May 8.

The unanimous decision to approve the motion as recommended, and the subsequent signing by Kaiser, terminated and amended extended health orders put in place Kaiser just a week earlier.

The result of the vote rescinded Kaiser’s ban on short-term rentals, restrictions on golf courses and ends social-distancing practicing requirements as well as the mandating of face coverings for residents when outside their homes.

The motion included an amendment pertaining to removing vocational schools from the school closure orders while keeping public schools closed.

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