The coronavirus death toll in Riverside County crossed the 1,000 mark Friday as countywide hospitalizations associated with the virus continued to trend downward.
Health officials on Friday reported 10 additional deaths thought to be connected to COVID-19, and 126 newly confirmed infections, bringing the county totals to 1,007 fatalities and 51,860 cases, according to the Riverside University Health System, which includes all COVID-19 cases and deaths reported since the public health documentation period began in early March.
As the death toll crossed into quadruple-digit territory, officials sought to remind residents on Friday that wearing face coverings, keeping physical distance and consistently washing hands will continue to help slow the spread of the virus.
“Every death due to COVID-19 is a tragedy,” county Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said. “One way we can honor their memory is to do what we can to prevent COVID-19, so that other families won’t suffer the same loss these families have.
“Even though most people with COVID-19 will survive, these people are indisputably casualties. We have to take this virus seriously.”
The number of known active cases countywide is 9,640, up 226 compared to Thursday, a day after officials acknowledged that the number of patient recoveries had been under-reported previously due to a lack of contact with some patients more than month after they were diagnosed.
The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 51,860 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 41,323. A recovery is defined as someone who has not manifested symptoms for 14 days.
Officials said 223 people were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 as of Friday, three more than Thursday, with 82 of those patients in intensive care units.
One week ago, the number of hospitalizations was reported to be 252, and a month ago, 487.
Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that hospitals countywide are being polled daily to accurately gauge data, which he termed “very solid.”
“We are at the lowest point since early June for (COVID-19) hospitalizations,” Barton said.
Health officials also notified the board that with the county now below the California Department of Public Health threshold of 200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, which requires ongoing restrictions, public and private schools can apply for waivers that permit in-class instruction. Two have been approved by the county Department of Public Health, and a dozen more are under review. All will require state sign-offs.
According to Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari, nearly two-thirds of all deaths coded as COVID-19 have been correlated to underlying conditions, principally chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease.
The doubling time — or the number of days in which documented virus cases increase 100% — is 45 days. A doubling rate of seven days is reason for alarm, while expanding doubling times point to moderation, or gradual success in virus containment, according to health officials.