Riverside County public health officials announced 58 new coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the countywide total to 291.
Officials also reported another death — a man in his 50s from Moreno Valley who died of complications associated with COVID-19, who became the ninth fatality countywide, said Jose Arballo, a spokesman for the Riverside University Health System.
Riverside leads the way with confirmed COVID-19 cases across the county with 29, followed by Palm Springs with 26 and Temecula with 24.
Seven of the fatalities occurred in the Coachella Valley, along a man in his 70s from Beaumont and the latest death involving the Moreno Valley resident.
County public health officials on Friday 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.
RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung said the surge — which could kill 1,000 people and infect 50,000 by early May — is expected to use up all the county’s hospital beds by April 12, and gut the county’s supply of ventilators between April 22 and May 5.
Leung said he based his estimates on local approximations and nationwide trends.
The local mortality rate is slightly over 1%. More than 3,000 residents had been tested for the virus, as of Friday, and screening measures are being broadened, according to officials.
“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 on 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.
Medical personnel began arriving Monday afternoon to staff the newly completed field hospital at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. Patients are expected to follow soon.
Members of the California National Guard late last week quickly converted two existing buildings on the property into a 125-bed temporary hospital to be staffed by 30 to 40 doctors, nurses, technicians and volunteers.
County public health officials want the temporary hospital set up and treating non-critically ill patients — including those being treated for illnesses other than coronavirus — before the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases hits beginning in mid-April.
Another temporary hospital will soon be set up in western Riverside County. That site will have another 125 beds, but specific information, including the location, has not yet been released.
Starting Tuesday, drive-thru COVID-19 testing in the Coachella Valley will relocate to the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, near where the temporary hospital is located. Testing there will be available by appointment only Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in parking lots 5 and 5A off of Arabia Street, between Highway 111 and Doctor Carreon Boulevard.
The site had been situated at the Southwest Church in Indian Wells since March 17.
“The fairgrounds is a large site and able to handle both operations of the federal medical station and the drive-up testing,” said Riverside County spokeswoman Brooke Federico. “The federal medical station will be in two of the buildings on the fairgrounds, and the drive-up testing will be conducted in one of the larger parking lots.”
Area residents can be screened for symptoms and, if deemed eligible, can schedule an appointment to be tested by calling the toll-free number 800-945-6171.
A second testing location at Diamond Stadium in Lake Elsinore has operated since March 19, with appointments being scheduled Sundays through Thursdays. Those looking to be tested at the Lake Elsinore location must live within a 50-mile radius of Riverside.
County officials announced Monday afternoon that a third testing location will open up Wednesday at the Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Riverside, which will also be by appointment only.