RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Confirmed coronavirus cases have passed the 2,000 mark in Riverside County as public health officials released new modeling indicating that preventive measures appear to be slowing down the spread of the virus.
Health officials Wednesday reported 144 new confirmed cases and four additional deaths, bringing the totals to 2,105 cases and the death toll to 54.
“Our average doubling time was previously between 4.6 to 4.7 days, which put us on a path to reach over 65,000 cases by the beginning of May,” Dr. Geoffrey Leung of the Riverside University Health System said during an afternoon briefing at the County Administration Center.
“However, during the past several days, we have seen a lengthening of that doubling time, and it is now at over seven days. This is very encouraging because it means we may be entering a period of slowing, and that we may have actually averted a major hospital surge.”
Officials now estimate Riverside County could see less than 200 deaths and 13,000 cases by May 1 — a stark contrast to modeling released earlier this month projecting some 1,000 deaths and 65,000 infections by that same date.
Leung attributed the new projections to the success of various county and state health orders imposed intended to limit the spread COVID-19, including a statewide stay-at-home order, the shuttering of schools and Riverside County’s mandatory face covering order.
However, Leung warned that easing up too early on the responses to curb the spread of the virus could put the county right back on track for a more devastating outcome, and asked residents to continue social distancing, washing their hands and covering their faces.
“Because of what you have all done, we believe we have changed our future, and moved to a lower curve, we realize people have made big sacrifices for the health and safety of our community, and we thank you for this,” Leung said. “However, we also ask everyone to stay the course.”
Officials on Wednesday began sharing specific data on COVID-19-linked hospitalizations. Of the 235 people currently hospitalized, 64 — about 27% — were being treated in an intensive care unit.
There are 416 documented patient recoveries, officials said. Recovered patients are defined as those who have completed their period of isolation and are no longer symptomatic.
County-run facilities are testing an average 2,200 people per day for the virus, Board of Supervisors Chairman Victor Manuel Perez said. As of last week, 29,000 individuals had been tested in the county. Additional testing sites are in the works, including a possible location in Blythe, Perez said.
A fourth county-run testing site opened Tuesday at the Perris Fairgrounds. The location is being staffed Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The other sites are at the county Fairgrounds in Indio, The Diamond in Lake Elsinore and Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. Appointments to visit any of the sites must be made in advance at 800-945-6171.
Workers are needed at the second federal field hospital to open in the county, this one inside the shuttered Sears store at Arlington and Streeter avenues in Riverside.
National Guard personnel are working with a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services team to prepare the 125-bed facility for opening in the next several weeks. It will be reserved for sub-acute patients, according to Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton.
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