Riverside County health officials announced Monday that 496 new coronavirus cases were confirmed since Friday, along with eight additional fatalities, bringing the countywide totals to 7,982 cases and 331 deaths.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Riverside County decreased by seven to 196 compared to Friday’s numbers, while the number of patients being treated in intensive care units was unchanged at 62, according to the Riverside University Health System.
Documented recoveries rose by 162 to 4,725.
In Riverside County, the so-called “doubling time” — a key metric that reflects over what period the number of infections has increased 100% — is now beyond three weeks. A seven-day doubling event is considered troubling. Longer doubling times point to moderation, according to health officials.
Since the rate of infection has slowed, Riverside County officials discontinued weekend updates.
The county’s hospital numbers include non-residents who are being treated for COVID-19 within the county’s borders, including some from neighboring Imperial County.
Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton said Friday that the county has received more than 70 patients from Imperial County. He said most of the patients arrived during the last two weeks of May, and they were part of a “large number of people south of the border coming across the border for medical care.”
In most cases, the patients were unable to obtain health services at Imperial County’s two hospitals, and in coordination with state officials, the individuals were transferred to one of the 16 medical facilities in Riverside County for care, according to Barton.
He confirmed that some of the patients had been counted among county residents hospitalized for coronavirus-related symptoms, and there was no distinction between the two in the COVID-19 hospital count published by the Riverside University Health System.
Barton said the countywide total hospital bed capacity of 3,560 and the ICU bed capacity of 385 have not been seriously impacted by the Imperial Valley arrivals, and the “metrics for reopening” the county under the governor’s multi-stage de-regulation plan should not be affected.
County Supervisor Karen Spiegel said Friday she “did have some concerns about an artificial spike in numbers and the need for separate numbers. We have had conversations with the governor’s office, and we’ve been assured there won’t be repercussions for us (by the higher patient count tied to Imperial County’s cases).”
The county is in the accelerated half of stage 2 of the framework, permitting retail establishments, hair salons, dine-in restaurants and gaming facilities to operate with restrictions. In stage 3, theaters and sporting venues will be permitted to reopen. Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said the county is already in the qualification range to advance to the next stage.
She pointed out the need for ongoing testing among residents and encouraged those who haven’t been screened to make an appointment via rivcoph.org/coronavirus/testing.
More than 119,000 Riverside County residents had been tested for the virus as of Monday afternoon, which accounts for more than 4% of the county’s population of nearly 2.5 million.
Starting this week, business owners will be able to apply for individual grants of up to $10,000 each, thanks to $45 million in federal money now available to small Riverside County businesses impacted by coronavirus-related public health shutdowns.
“Ninety-six percent of businesses in Riverside County are small businesses — 50 employees or less. These grants can be used for job retention, economic preservation, payroll, working capital, to buy personal protective equipment,” Spiegel said. “This is to alleviate the hardship experienced by private for-profit businesses located in Riverside County.”
The $45 million allotment was part of a larger $431 million award to the county under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security — CARES — Act approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in March.
The Board of Supervisors will formally vote on the process of awarding grants during its meeting Tuesday, but a website has already been established for interested parties to gather information on the requirements to apply for funds: www.rivcobizhelp.org.
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