One Year Ago Today (December 14, 2020)…Riverside County health officials reported 6,741 newly diagnosed coronavirus cases and 13 virus-related deaths since, as the number of available licensed intensive care unit beds countywide dwindled to zero.

“The number of ICU beds has reached capacity, however, the hospitals themselves have the ability through their surge plans to convert other equipment and beds into ICU beds,” said Riverside University Health System spokesman Jose Arballo.

Arballo said there are currently no plans to open up the county’s two federal medical facilities in Riverside and Indio, although he said the equipment remains stored at the sites if needed.

“We are confident that the hospitals have the ability when they get to this point to be able to add more capability to their facilities,” he said.

The ICU figure includes both COVID and non-COVID patients.

The aggregate number of coronavirus infections recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March was 119,691 as of Monday, compared to 112,950 on Friday, according to RUHS data. The number of deaths tied to COVID-19 rose to 1,586.

The RUHS reported 930 COVID-positive hospitalizations, up 121 from Friday. The number includes 184 patients being treated in intensive care units, up 14 from Friday. Both are records.

The county does not release updated coronavirus statistics on weekends.

Meanwhile, Riverside County officials announced that they anticipate the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine to begin arriving in the region on Friday. Officials estimate the county will receive between 14,000 and 15,000 doses. Selected healthcare workers at the county’s acute care hospitals will be the first to receive the vaccine, which has been found to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, according to Pfizer and U.S. officials.

The number of known active virus cases countywide is 47,291, an increase of 5,504 compared to Friday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 119,691 — according to the county Executive Office.

The number of verified patient recoveries is 70,814. That figure has previously been underreported due to health officials not being able to confirm the status of patients in follow-up interviews.

Riverside County’s overall state-calculated positivity rate is 14.8%.

The 11-county Southern California region’s available ICU capacity dropped to 2.7% Monday.

The metric is a key indicator for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “regional stay- at-home” order, which went into effect just before midnight on Dec. 6 locally. The order was triggered when ICU bed availability across Southern California fell below 15%.

The mandate is slated to remain in effect until at least Dec. 28, when regions may be moved out of lockdown if bed capacity has recovered.

It impacts bars, theaters, museums, hair salons, indoor recreational facilities, amusement parks and wineries — all of which are supposed to remain closed. Restaurants are confined to takeout and delivery, with capacity limitations on retail outlets.

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