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California

Riverside County reports more than 200 new COVID-19 cases, its biggest one-day leap

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Victor Guardavo is tested for the coronavirus at a drive-through screening center in Montclair.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

With 210 additional coronavirus cases, Riverside County health officials on Tuesday reported their largest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.

That bring the county’s tally to 1,961. A total of 376 people, which are included in the total number of cases, have recovered from the novel virus, records show.

This comes just one day after the county reported nine COVID-19 deaths, the most it had seen in a single day. As of Tuesday evening, the death toll remained at 50 with no new fatalities.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out the road map to reopen California amid the statewide restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The number of new cases in the state has begun slowing down more than officials expected. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were nearly 26,000 confirmed cases in California — about 1,400 more than Tuesday, according to The Times’ coronavirus tracker.

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Despite Newsom’s hopeful message, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer, said that the county — which has already implemented some of the state’s strictest virus containment orders — has a long way to go.

“It may be several more weeks and even when we are [there], it will be gradual,” he said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “It will be step by step and there will be longstanding changes in the way we live and do business.”

“I want to make things perfectly clear to people: Don’t expect a lot of change,” Kaiser added. “Don’t forget, even if I tear up every single health order that I have written to date — and I certainly have no intention of doing so today — the governor’s orders still [apply] and its restrictions on nonessential activities are still enforced.”

Echoing Newsom, Kaiser said that more testing needs to be done in order for Riverside County to potentially loosen restrictions. In the county, approximately 29,000 residents have been tested for COVID-19 between public and private sources. This means that more than 1% of the county population has been tested, Kaiser said.

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However, the county is still backlogged for testing by about three days, he said.

The county has the capacity to conduct about 2,200 tests a day at its four testing sites, Kaiser said. But to keep up with health experts’ estimates of how many tests should be conducted nationwide, the county needs to be doing about 4,000 to 8,000 tests a day, Kaiser said.

To accomplish this, Kaiser said the county needs to eliminate the backlog of testing, have the capacity to test asymptomatic individuals and continue responding quickly when COVID-19 cases are found, such as in skilled nursing facilities where patients are among the most vulnerable. On Monday, the county sent four specialized teams to licensed care facilities, including nursing homes, to train staffers and distribute personal protective equipment.

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As of Tuesday evening, 247 people were hospitalized for COVID-19. Of those, 66 were in intensive care, health officials said.

Though there were concerns about running out of equipment, Bruce Barton, the county’s director of emergency management, said the county has a “good amount of capacity” in all of its 17 acute care hospitals. As of Monday evening, hospital beds were 60% occupied, he said. Of approximately 500 ventilators, 270 were available for use, and of about 360 ICU beds, more than 100 were available.

Of the 50 county residents who have died — nine women and 41 men — 28 were between the ages of 65 and 84, with some having underlying health conditions; nine were 85 or older; eight were between 45 and 64; four were between 25 and 44; and one was 20, records show. No further details were available.


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