Riverside county health officials Thursday reported 101 new coronavirus cases and another fatality, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 1,280 and the number of deaths to 33.
The number of recovered COVID-19 patients increased to 125, up from 74 on Wednesday
“We are happy to see the numbers (of recovered patients) jump like they did today, that was the biggest jump we’ve had,” said Jose Arballo, spokesman for the Riverside University Health System. “A lot of it has to do with being able to verify and close out cases.”
Arballo said patients are considered recovered if they complete the prescribed quarantine period and are no longer showing symptoms. They then undergo interviews by health professionals, who eventually close out patients’ cases and designate them recovered — but there is no second testing, Arballo said.
Federal, state and local officials have warned of an upcoming surge in cases and deaths, which Dr. Geoffrey Leung of the Riverside University Health System said late last week could mean 65,000 cases, 11,000 hospitalizations and 1,000 deaths by the beginning of May in Riverside County.
The 1,000 death-estimation is based on a 1.9% mortality rate in the county from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Updated projections released Tuesday by health officials show the county remains on track to see its total number of cases double every 4.6 days.
Projections also show that all currently set up ICU beds in the county could be full by April 14, with all regular beds set to be occupied by April 23.
Leung, however, also stressed that staying home and frequent hand washing could help Riverside County flatten the curve, along with increased testing, wearing face coverings, closing all nonessential businesses and gathering places, and enforcing local orders designed to protect the public.
“If we can do three of these things well, we believe we can decrease the hospitalizations, the cases and the deaths by 75%, saving nearly 700 or 800 lives or more,” Leung said Friday.
Successfully implementing one of the measures, he said, could see the number of cases and deaths cut in half.
Over the weekend, Riverside County’s public health officer issued orders requiring anyone leaving home to wear a face covering and barring all outside gatherings, except for those between family members residing in the same home.
County officials initially announced law enforcement agencies throughout the county would enforce the orders “as they deem necessary,” although Sheriff Chad Bianco said Monday that his department would not ticket residents who defy the directives.
It remains unclear how the police departments in cities that do not contract with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department planned to enforce them.
The ban on gatherings excludes essential businesses, such as health care offices, grocery stores and gas stations. However, those businesses must use social-distancing measures to keep clients and customers six feet apart and all employees must wear face coverings, Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s order states.
Additionally, all houses of worship are prohibited from in-person gatherings, including drive-in religious services.
Drive-thru testing is available at three locations by appointment only in Riverside County, including Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Riverside and the parking lot the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, both operational Tuesday through Saturday.
Testing at Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore is open Sunday to Thursday, and can be accessed by anyone who lives within a 50-mile radius of the Riverside metropolitan area.
People who want to get tested must call 800-945-6171 to be screened for specific symptoms. Appointments for the Lake Elsinore site can also be made online at www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19.