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California

In its largest increase since coronavirus crisis began, Riverside County reports 9 new deaths

Riverside County medical personnel help one another with personal protective equipment at a drive-though coronavirus testing facility in March. A new site opened Tuesday in the county.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes)

Nine more people died Monday in Riverside County of complications from the coronavirus, the largest number of deaths reported in a single day in the county since the pandemic began, health officials said.

An additional 132 people tested positive for COVID-19, a day after the county recorded the biggest jump in its number of confirmed cases.

The new deaths bring the county’s toll to 50. Two of the victims were from Palm Desert, two from Riverside, two from Moreno Valley and one each from Cherry Valley, Wildomar and Hemet, according to Brooke Federico, the county’s public information officer.

Riverside County has 1,751 people who have tested positive for the illness, including 297 who have recovered. The county now has the third-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, behind San Diego (1,847) and Los Angeles (9,480), records show. Last week, Riverside County ranked fourth.

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Riverside County is opening two federal medical stations to alleviate stress at local hospitals as they prepare for an influx of patients.

More than 18,000 people have been tested at three county facilities, officials said. That figure does not include tests conducted by private physicians or labs.

In an effort to boost the number of those being tested, health officials opened a fourth drive-through testing site Tuesday at the Perris Fairgrounds. The facility will be open 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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Like other testing locations, an appointment is required. To schedule one, call (800) 945-6171.

“As this pandemic progresses, knowledge is power. The more testing and data we have, the quicker we can get control of this virus and get back to business,” said Jeff Hewitt, the supervisor of the county’s fifth district. “This gives us a crucial mid-county location, and I am very happy to see it open up.”

Also beginning Tuesday, four specialized teams will begin visiting licensed care facilities, including nursing homes, throughout the county. The teams consist of members from the American Medical Response and other healthcare partners who could be involved in patient care, officials said.

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The teams will ensure that medical workers have the equipment and resources they need to do their job safely. Officials said they want to prevent situations like the one that occurred at the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center last week, where several employees stopped showing up for work and the facility had be to be evacuated.

“There has been so much incorrect information that has spread that many employees in these facilities are scared to show up for work,” said Kim Saruwatari, the county’s director of public health. “By providing these employees with accurate information about how COVID-19 is and is not spread, they will be confident when they report to work.”

The teams will target specific regions in the county and work with staff at each facility to “demonstrate proper safety techniques, provide proper safety gear and educate them about COVID-19 to dispel rumors and correct erroneous information,” officials said.

Nearly 2,000 people have volunteered with the county’s COVID-19 response, with about half assisting with medical duties. Opportunities vary, with some paid openings available, officials said. For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit the county’s website or call (951) 955-9227.


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