RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — Riverside County health officials Friday reported a dozen additional deaths thought connected to the coronavirus, raising the county’s virus-related death toll to 1,367, as the number of hospitalizations continued to edge up.
The 12 newly confirmed virus-related deaths include patients who were between 66 and 87 years old, according to Riverside University Health System spokesman Jose Arballo.
Officials additionally reported Friday 639 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total number of infections recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March to 74,180, compared to 73,541 on Thursday, RUHS data shows.
By comparison, there were 208 COVID-positive hospitalizations reported last Friday.
The new figures come after County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that virus-related hospitalizations “continue to trend up.”
“We’ve had outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities,” he said. “We’re making sure they have appropriate personal protective equipment.”
Barton said nine hospitalized patients are from the state prison system, with which the Riverside University Health System has a contract. Three patients from Imperial County are also in area medical facilities, but Barton did not know whether additional transfers from Imperial may be imminent.
The county’s peak in hospitalizations occurred in mid-July, when the county averaged on a daily basis about 550 COVID-19 patients under general or intensive care. The low point was near the beginning of the hospital reporting period in late March, when Barton said 119 were hospitalized..
The countywide testing rate is now 232.9 tests per 100,000 residents. However, the newly revised California Department of Public Health threshold for large counties is 272.41 tests per 100,000, meaning jurisdictions short of that are penalized when they are rated under the standards established as part of the state’s color-coded, tiered regulatory framework. The previous testing benchmark set by the state was 239.21.
The county’s coronavirus case rate is 13.9 infections per 100,000 residents, while the positivity rate (percentage of people who test positive over a 7-day average period) is at 6.7 percent, compared to 5.9 percent two weeks ago.
Nearly four weeks ago, the CDPH reclassified the county in the purple tier, the most restrictive under the COVID-19 regulatory framework, meaning some businesses that had reopened were required to move operations outdoors or close again. The designation impacts offices, gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship, zoos and museums.