Riverside County Officials Say Hospitals Can Handle Rise in COVID-19 Patients

Taylor Martinez

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The number of coronavirus patients being treated in Riverside County hospitals jumped by 34 over the weekend, as the number of cases and virus-related deaths continued to edge upward.

There were 409 infected patients hospitalized countywide as of Monday, according to the Riverside University Health System. That number includes 96 patients in intensive care units — down three from Friday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 1,569 since Friday, bringing the aggregate number of infections recorded countywide since the public health documentation period began in early March to 80,011, compared to 78,442 on Friday.

Another 13 coronavirus-related deaths were also confirmed Monday, lifting the county’s cumulative total to 1,413.

County health officials do not release updated statistics on weekends.

County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton said during last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting that the rise in COVID-19 caseloads has not overwhelmed area hospitals, which continue to operate with excess bed capacity.

“The good news is, there has been a lot of surge planning,” Barton said. “This is familiar territory for the hospitals. They have processes and procedures in place.”

He said individuals with a critical medical need of any kind should not hesitate to visit medical facilities, because they “are still safe” thanks to triaging that separates potentially contagious people from those who aren’t.

The county’s peak in hospitalizations occurred in mid-July, when nearly 600 patients with COVID-19 were under general or intensive care.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was 12,511 as of Monday, an increase of 1,082 from Friday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 80,011 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 66,087.

Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said last week the county has a state-adjusted case rate of 22.4 per 100,000 residents and an overall state-calculated positivity rate of 8.9%, up from 6.7% two weeks ago.

The county’s testing level is at 282.1 per 100,000. The revised state threshold for large counties is 272 per 100,000.

Last month, the California Department of Public Health reclassified the county in the purple tier, the most restrictive under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy regulatory framework. For roughly a month, the county had been in the slightly less stringent red tier. Some entities that had reopened were required to close again, including gyms, restaurants, movie theaters and churches.

Last week, Newsom placed 28 counties in the purple tier, predicated on a 50% statewide upswing in coronavirus cases, which the governor said was “the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet.”

He went a step further on Thursday, issuing a revised executive order mandating a nightly soft curfew, barring non-essential gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. That restriction took effect Saturday, although many law enforcement agencies have indicated they have no intention of actively enforcing it.

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