Riverside County public health officials Friday announced 78 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 185, and shared more detailed data showing Riverside, Moreno Valley and Palm Springs among the highest concentration of infections.
The number of deaths remained unchanged at eight.
“I just want to be perfectly honest with you, and very clear with you, that we know that the surge isn’t even here yet,” Fourth District Supervisor Manuel Perez told constituents over Facebook Live Friday afternoon. “The surge is coming, and we anticipate the surge sometime in mid-April up until early May.”
Perez said the numbers will continue to climb as more testing is done.
Starting Friday, the Riverside University Health System began releasing its coronavirus patient data grouped by city, instead of corralled into broadly defined regions as before.
A man in his 70s who became the first non-Coachella Valley resident to die due to complications from coronavirus this week was identified Friday as a resident of Beaumont, where five cases have been discovered. His name was not released.
Western Riverside County:
— Riverside, 21 cases;
— Moreno Valley, 20 cases;
— Temecula, 16 cases;
— Corona, 12 cases;
— Murrieta, 11 cases;
— Eastvale, 11 cases.
— Palm Springs, 15 cases, 2 dead;
— Palm Desert, 12 cases, 1 dead;
— Rancho Mirage, 9 cases, 2 dead;
— Indio has 8 cases, 2 dead;
— Desert Hot Springs, 3 cases;
— Cathedral City, 3 cases.
The new data comes a day after county public health officials released new estimates indicating coronavirus cases in Riverside County will continue to grow — possibly doubling every four to five days — and deaths stemming from viral complications could rise 125 times the current figure in the next month.
“We’re trying to change the curve and slow down the rate of infection,” RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung said during a news briefing at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in downtown Riverside on Thursday. “But based on forecasting and modeling … there could be a doubling of the rate of COVID-19 infection every four to five days … If we stay on the same doubling rate, (by early May) we could have over 1,000 deaths and 50,000 new cases.”
Leung said he based his estimates on local approximations and nationwide trends.
“By April 12, all hospital beds (in the county) will be used up, and if we stay on the same doubling rate, we’ll be out of ventilators in the April 22-May 5 period,” Leung said.
The one ray of hope that he referenced was a dramatic slowdown in the rate of infection in New Rochelle, New York, where a major cluster of COVID-19 infections was documented two weeks ago, but after closely monitored isolation measures were implemented, the rate dropped precipitously.
“They lengthened the doubling time by two weeks,” Leung said. “If all of you do everything you can, together we can get through this.”
Like the rest of the nation, the local mortality rate is slightly over 1%. More than 3,000 residents have been tested for the virus, and screening measures are being broadened, according to officials.
Health officials on Friday said the body of a 25-year-old pharmacy technician from San Diego County who died of COVID-19 was found at a Coachella Valley home.
Officials said the man contracted the virus outside Riverside County but had been self-quarantining in La Quinta when he died.
Because the man was not a Riverside County resident, the death does not change the countywide death toll, which did not shift Friday.
“My deepest condolences go out to the family of the young adult who passed,” Perez said in a statement. “The virus does not discriminate and age doesn’t matter. This tragedy demonstrates the need to stay in place. It’s safer at home.”
In Riverside on Friday, a doctor at Riverside Medical Clinic’s Day Street location tested positive for COVID-19 and health investigators were working to track down patients with whom the doctor may have interacted.
The physician, who was not identified, is expected to recover, county health officials said.
So foar, all eight of Riverside County’s COVID-19 deaths have been residents older than 70, most of whom had underlying health conditions, officials said.
Members of the California National Guard on Friday continued setting up a temporary hospital at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio in anticipation of an expected surge of coronavirus cases.
The 125-bed “federal medical station” will be built within existing buildings and be equipped with all necessary equipment. The field hospital will help ease the burden on the local hospital system, said county spokeswoman Brooke Federico.
It is expected to take 10 days to build the facility, which will likely stay open for at least eight weeks, officials said.
Another temporary hospital will soon be set up in western Riverside County, Federico said. That site will have another 125 beds, but specific information, including the location, was not released.
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