Riverside County health officials Wednesday reported 163 new confirmed coronavirus cases, and four more fatalities, bringing the county’s totals to 1,179 cases and 32 deaths.
The number of recovered patients increased by seven, to 74.
Federal, state and local officials continue to warn of an upcoming surge in cases and deaths, which Dr. Geoffrey Leung of the Riverside University Health System said 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 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 follow suit 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.
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 making it mandatory for 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.
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