Second Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy dies from coronavirus complications

Taylor Martinez

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday morning that a second deputy has succumbed to the COVID-19 virus. Deputy David Werksman was most recently assigned to Sheriff’s admin

This comes after Thursday’s announcement that Deputy Terrell Young, who served the department for 15 years, was the first reported death in the department. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to to his loved ones during this difficult time,” said RSO on Twitter.

Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco tells NBC Palm Springs that his department has been hit hard.

Thursday afternoon Bianco said 25 department employees have tested positive, with several more still being tested. He said several employees are hospitalized, one critically. It is unknown at this time if the one in critical condition was Deputy Werksman.

The department has advised any employees that feel sick to call out. Bianco says all employees are seen by medical staff before they enter their work facility and if they show any symptoms they are sent home. He also said several of the employees that have tested positive showed no symptoms. The employees that have tested positive are both male and female, are healthy or have underlying health conditions and range in age — with the oldest being 59-years-old.

It is unclear how many of the cases originated from the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta, where a deputy who died of the disease was assigned. Deputy Young is the first member of the department to succumb to the virus.

11 inmates in the county have also tested positive as of Thursday afternoon, said Bianco, and 60 are in quarantine.

There are 493 reported cases in Riverside County as of Thursday afternoon with 14 deaths and 50 patients recovered.

The number of cases, however, is anticipated to continue rising. On Tuesday, Riverside University Health System officials estimated that by April 12, all 102 of the county’s intensive care unit beds could be full. By April 22, all hospital beds could be filled.

All 172 available ventilators — which helps patients breathe when they can’t do so on their own — could be used by April 26, according to the modeling.

The RUHS estimated that 3,000 ICU beds would be needed by early May, along with 9,000 regular hospital beds, noting that the virus numbers double every 4.7 days. By early May, 1,000 people could die and about 30,000 people be infected by COVID-19, according to the health system.

As of Tuesday, 4,700 people had been tested for the coronavirus in Riverside County, according to county public health spokesman Jose Arballo.

Drive-thru testing is also available in the parking lot at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. The testing site is on the same property as two buildings that members of the California National Guard converted into a 125-bed medical facility to be staffed by 30 to 40 doctors, nurses, technicians and volunteers. Staff began arriving at the field hospital Monday, but it was unclear when they would begin accepting patients.

Officials want temporary hospitals set up and treating non-critically ill patients — including those being treated for illnesses other than coronavirus — before the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases hits. Another 125- bed temporary hospital is slated to be set up in western Riverside County, but that location has not yet been identified.

Testing at the fairgrounds will be available by appointment only Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., in parking lots 5 and 5A off of Arabia Street, between Highway 111 and Doctor Carreon Boulevard.

 

Updated: 4/3/20 9:00 with information on second death.

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