The number of known active coronavirus cases throughout Riverside County has increased by 547, and the number of deaths connected to the virus edged up six amid renewed public health regulations imposed by the governor on eateries and other establishments in hopes of stemming a sharp rise in cases statewide.
According to the Riverside University Health System, the confirmed active case count widened to 9,532, compared to 8,895 on Tuesday. The number of deaths stemming from COVID-19 complications stands at 463, compared to 457 reported by RUHS a day earlier.
The documentation period covers early March to the present. In that time, a total 18,041 infections have been recorded by the county. The active case count is derived by subtracting deaths and patient recoveries from the aggregate figure, according to the county Executive Office. The number of patients documented as recovered is now 8,046.
Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday implemented a ban on indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, family entertainment centers, cardrooms, theaters and museums in what he termed a precautionary move to address the “particularly concerning” spike in infections in 19 counties on the state’s “watch list.”
Riverside County is on the list and will be among the places where multi-agency strike teams are deployed to interface with proprietors to insist on compliance with health protocols, such as social distancing and mask usage. The new state mandate barring indoor activities at the venues is slated to last three weeks.
On Monday, the county Public Health Officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, acting on a recommendation from the California Department of Public Health, ordered all bars shut down countywide.
Kaiser told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that bars “are difficult locations to control COVID-19. After they opened on June 12, cases started to climb,” he said.
Bars had previously been shut down as part of the governor’s stay-at-home order issued March 19.
Health officials have said recent demonstrations calling for law enforcement reform in Riverside County and elsewhere were likely additional hotbeds for viral contact.
According to Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari, the county’s positivity rate for COVID-19 screening is running close to 12%, while the state’s preferred benchmark is 8%. She said the infection rate translates to 202 per 100,000 residents.
Saruwatari told the board that the “doubling rate” — when the number of COVID-19 cases increases 100% over a given period — is at 27 days. The metric is considered a key indicator of moderation or intensification of viral spread. It is in the severe category when the doubling rate is seven days.
Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton told the board that the hospital bed usage rate countywide has been between 61% and 68% in recent days, while the intensive care unit bed usage has been between 95% and 99%. But Barton said most hospitals have the ability to quickly add bed space beyond their licensed capacities.
He said that during the 2017 flu pandemic that hit the county and other parts of the state and country, some local hospitals were operating in excess of their licensed capacities by 30%.
The EMD director said only about one quarter of the ICU beds countywide were currently needed for COVID-19 patients, numbering 117 who require intensive care. The rest were being utilized by stroke, lung and other patients.
The governor last week ordered all California residents to wear face coverings in most settings outside their homes to help slow the spread of the virus.
Riverside County had previously rescinded its mask mandate, and the county was advancing into stage 3 of the governor’s four-stage public health de-regulation plan. But with COVID-19 cases spiking, and the renewed restrictions announced, that process is now on hold.
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