Desert Sun: California coronavirus: Riverside County numbers and latest maps

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 1:19 p.m.

In late March, Riverside County officials predicted that hospitals would run out of life-saving resources needed to care for every COVID-19 patient seeking help by mid-April, whether that was a hospital bed or a ventilator.

We have hit the week of predicted turmoil, and while the pandemic has caused immense strain on the county health care system, hospitals are not crumbling.

It isn’t that officials were wrong in their predictions. Instead, it is likely because once the predicted curve of cases was known, officials issued strict social distancing, stay-home and face-covering orders. This slowed the spread of cases, stretching out the demand of the health care system over a longer, more manageable period of time instead of all at once.

The number of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 continues to grow each day in California. While there are discussions looking ahead to the logistics of re-opening communities, officials still expect cases to rise in the coming weeks. The number of confirmed cases could jump as testing opens to everyone, including asymptomatic individuals, which Riverside County announced in mid-April.

As of April 20, the number of cases in Riverside County had nearly doubled from nine days prior, rising to 2,847. In late March, the doubling rate was about 4.7 days.

The Desert Sun continues to track coronavirus cases and impact across the county. Here’s what we know so far:

A look at Coachella Valley: What the numbers mean

In Riverside County, coronavirus has claimed the lives of 27 white individuals (49%); 19 Latinx (34%); three Asian/Pacific Islander (5%); three black (5%); one Native American (2%); and two unknown individuals (4%). That data was last updated Friday afternoon, according to Riverside County. Race and ethnicity data were only available for 55 out of the 74 deaths.

Whites make up a disproportionate share of the deaths in the county. Latinos account for almost 50% of Riverside County’s population, while whites are 35%, blacks and Asians are 7% each, and Native Americans are 2%.

Looking across the Coachella Valley, it may appear that Indio has an undue number of cases clustered within its city borders with 105 cases — the highest in the Coachella Valley. However, because Indio has the highest population in the valley, that larger case number makes sense.

In contrast, Indian Wells, the city with the smallest population, has a disproportionate number of cases based on its population. Indian Wells has just 10 cases, but against its 5,317 residents, that number is striking.

The city of Coachella has nearly the same rate as Indian Wells, also outpacing other valley cities based on its population.

Testing in Riverside County

Riverside County is testing residents at a rate of 1,288 tests administered per 100,000 people. This starkly exceeds the overall state rate at 320 tests per 100,000.

The county’s priority on testing could explain the fact that Riverside County’s rate of infection is about 111 per 100,000 residents, higher than the state rate of 73 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

However, the dire impact of the coronavirus is similar. Both Riverside County and California overall have seen about three deaths from coronavirus complications per 100,000 people.

It is still too early to say if Riverside County has flattened the coronavirus case curve, said Jose Arballo, Riverside County public information specialist.

While the doubling rate in Riverside County has slowed, this doesn’t mean the number of new confirmed cases is getting smaller each day. It is to be expected that it would take longer to double from 1,000 cases to 2,000 versus one case to two like at the start of the pandemic. Officials are still concerned about the rapid spread of COVID-19, which is why the stay-at-home order still remains in effect.

The county originally expected to reach hospital bed (and ICU bed) capacity between April 12 and 21. Officials predicted that there would be as few as 1,712 or as many as 3,424 COVID-19 patients in Riverside County during that time. They were correct on this prediction.

The county feared that those patients would overwhelm the county’s 3,400 existing hospital beds, of which about 40% were already full. Additionally, the county originally expected to run out of ventilators between April 22 and May 5.

However, this has not happened due to extreme social distancing measures and all hospitals in the county quickly working to expand their bed capacity.

As of April 15, 60% of the county’s total number of hospital beds were in use, 74% of ICU beds were in use and 44% of ventilators were in use.

Michael Mesisca, Riverside University Health System-Medical Center emergency and disaster medicine director, said he believes the county’s hospitals will be able to accommodate any upcoming coronavirus surge.

Nursing homes continue to worry local health departments

COVID-19 infections have been found in at least 19 nursing facilities in Riverside County, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Of the 1,224 nursing homes in the state, there have been 255 with at least one confirmed COVID-19 infection, in either a patient or a health care worker, as of April 18.

The following list separates infections between staff members and patients. It is unclear why the state chose “11” as the reporting cutoff number:

  • Alta Vista Healthcare and Wellness Centre: Fewer than 11 patients
  • Arlington Gardens Care Center: Fewer than 11 staff, fewer than 11 patients
  • Community Care and Rehabilitation Center: Fewer than 11 staff, 25 patients
  • Community Care on Palm: Fewer than 11 staff
  • Cypress Gardens Care Centers: Fewer than 11 staff
  • Desert Regional Medical Center Skilled Nursing Facility: Fewer than 11 patients
  • Extended Care Hospital of Riverside: 26 staff, 26 patients
  • Highland Springs Care Center: Fewer than 11 staff, fewer than 11 patients
  • Indio Nursing and Rehabilitation Center: Fewer than 11 patients
  • Manorcare Health Services-Hemet: Fewer than 11 staff; 31 patients
  • Manorcare Health Services-Palm Desert: Fewer than 11 patients
  • Providence Orange Tree: Fewer than 11 staff
  • Ramona Rehabilitation and Post Acute Care Center: Fewer than 11 staff, fewer than 11 patients
  • Rancho Mirage Health and Rehabilitation Center: Fewer than 11 staff, fewer than 11 patients
  • Riverside Postacute Care: Fewer than 11 staff
  • The Village Healthcare Center: Fewer than 11 staff
  • Valencia Gardens Health Care Center, 12 staff; ewer than 11 patients
  • Villa Health Care Center: Fewer than 11 staff
  • Vista Pacifica Convalescent Hospital: Fewer than 11 staff

The graphic below encompasses a “point in time snapshot” of facilities that have reported data to the state (86% of the state’s facilities) within the last 24 hours as of April 18.

Millions file for unemployment in state

A historic 2.7 million people filed for unemployment insurance in California in the past four weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on April 15. That same day, as he announced expanded call center hours and staffing to keep up with the surge in new claims, and a new aid program for undocumented workers.

California weekly unemployment claims
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020. The unemployment claims quickly spiked the following week.