Southwest RivCo cities see surge in new COVID-19 cases over last week

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Sharde Hairston, LVN, works at a free COVID-19 testing site at the Grace Mellman Community Library in Temecula. No symptoms need to be exhibited to have a test taken. The testing location takes walk-ins and appointments by calling 888-634-1123. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Many cities and communities in southwest Riverside County experienced double-digit percentage increases in new cases of COVID-19, according to data released by the Riverside County health officials Monday evening, June 22. 

The community of French Valley, which the week before had recorded 51 cases of the coronavirus, checked in with 67 total cases and no deaths Monday, a jump of 16 new cases and a 23% increase. 

Four people from Wildomar have died and the city has a total of 93 cases, an increase of 20 new cases, meaning the number of new cases increased by 21.5% in the city. 

Murrieta added 35 new cases, an increase of more than 18.5% in the past week, with a total of 188 and eight deaths among its residents.

Menifee saw an increase of 40 new cases and San Jacinto recorded 38 in the course of the week, both indicate a more than 16.5% increase week over week. Six residents of Menifee (245 cases) and San Jacinto (225 cases) have died due to the disease. 

Temecula experienced a 12.5% increase in new cases, jumping from 173 to 198, by adding 25 new cases. Hemet has had the highest number of cases in southwest Riverside County for some time but recorded 40 new cases since last week for a total of 356. That indicates an 11.24% increase over the week before as well as two more deaths for a total of 23. 

Lake Elsinore recorded 233 new cases, a slight increase from last week (221), with eight deaths and Canyon Lake stayed steady at 13 total cases and zero deaths. 

The county reported number totals for unincorporated areas including Anza at six, Winchester at two, Valle Vista held steady at 35, Lakeland Village at 51 and East Hemet with 53 cases. 

Lakeland Village and East Hemet each reported one death. 

Riverside County as a whole is averaging more than 300 new COVID-19 cases every day for the past two weeks, according to Riverside County health officials’ data.

If that average trend continues, Riverside County will clock nearly 8,500 new cases during the month of June, more than the total number of cases recorded since Feb. 25, the date the county reported its first case. 

The recent surge in new cases meant the California Department of Public Health placed Riverside County on its coronavirus watchlist late last week, saying the county was experiencing “elevated disease transmission.”

On Monday evening, the county reported a startling 1,022 new coronavirus infections and 13,800 recorded cases overall from Saturday through Monday night, the largest number of new cases recorded by the county over any single weekend. 

Broken down day by day, there were 276 cases reported Saturday, June 20, 466 Sunday, June 21, and 280 Monday. The number of new cases Saturday through Monday represented an 8% increase. 

It means several cities and communities in southwest Riverside County are outpacing the growth percentage of new cases countywide. 

Since Feb. 25, 424 people have died from complications related to COVID-19 since the county announced it had suffered its first death March 15. From Saturday to Monday, the county said 14 more people had died from the virus. 

While that is a big number, new deaths from coronavirus have been steady countywide, averaging just more than four per day since the beginning of the month. 

The county also said Monday that 189,162 residents had been tested for the virus and 298 people were currently hospitalized with 87 in intensive care units. That’s an increase of more than 11% over last week. 

A total of 6,895 people have recovered from the virus – that is an increase of 795 reported recoveries since June 15. 

In the most recent District 3 weekly COVID-19 report, which consists of the cities and communities such as Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet, French Valley, Idyllwild, Anza and others, the county reported a seven-day average doubling time of 51.9 from June 15 to June 21. Of the 1,311 total cases, the area saw 81 new weekly cases and an increase of four new hospitalizations during that time span. One new death was also recorded. There were 61 active cases reported at area jails.

District 1, which also includes Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Wildomar, Riverside, as well as other cities and communities, reported a seven-day average doubling time of 40.9, 12 new hospitalizations and seven new patients admitted into the intensive care unit. 

On Monday, county health officials said that 3,500 randomly selected residents will be asked to take part in antibody studies to determine whether they’ve been exposed and have already recovered from the virus.

“It’s important to know the extent of the spread of the virus (and those who) have developed antibodies,” Kim Saruwatari, director of county Department of Public Health, said. “That information is vital as we move forward.”

Residents cannot volunteer for the antibody research and those who agree to participate after random sampling will have their blood drawn at one of nine sites countywide. 

More information is available at http://www.rivcoph.org/antibodystudy.

Will Fritz and City News Service contributed to this report.

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