Riverside County health officials on Thursday reported 196 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional virus-related deaths.  

Of those new cases, 34 were in the Coachella Valley, as well as one of the additional deaths. The region’s nine cities and 11 unincorporated communities have accounted for 300 deaths in Riverside County — or 31% of the total — even though these communities have less than 18% of the county’s population.

There are now 51,743 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county, of which 997 have been fatal. 

Riverside County, with about 2.5 million people, is the fourth most-populous county in California, but it continues to record the second-highest number of cases and deaths in the state, behind Los Angeles County, which has surpassed 230,000 cases. 

Riverside County has an overall 10.3% positivity rate. The state’s guidelines advise that each county should strive to have a positivity rate under 8%. 

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County officials on Thursday also reported that 226 coronavirus patients are currently hospitalized, one more than Wednesday. Of those, 81 are in intensive care units, three more than the day before.

“We are polling hospitals every single day,” county Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “The data on hospitalizations is very solid. We are at the lowest point since early June for (COVID-19) hospitalizations.”

One week ago, the number of hospitalizations was reported to be 300; a month ago, that figure was 523.

“Hospitals are now seeing an increase in non-COVID patients, as some of the hospitals are gaining back their capabilities to ratchet up elective surgeries,” the EMD director said.

Health officials also notified the board that with the county now below the California Department of Public Health threshold of 200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, which requires ongoing restrictions, public and private schools can apply for waivers that permit in-class instruction. Two have been approved by the county Department of Public Health, and a dozen more are under review. All will require state sign-offs.

According to Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari, nearly two-thirds of all deaths coded as COVID-19 have been correlated to underlying conditions, principally chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease.

The doubling time –– or the number of days in which documented virus cases increase 100% –– is 43 days. A doubling rate of seven days is reason for alarm, while expanding doubling times point to moderation, or gradual success in virus containment, according to health officials.

About 53% of the county’s COVID-19 cases are among people under age 40. The cases, according to health officials, are broken down by age of the patient:

  • 878 cases (1.8%) are among people ages 0 to 4
  • 3,851 cases (7.7%) are among people ages 5 to 17
  • 21,751 cases (43.7%) are among people ages 18 to 39
  • 18,040 cases (36.3%) are among people ages 40 to 64
  • 3,822 cases (7.7%) are among people ages 65 to 79
  • 1,406 cases (2.8%) are among people 80 years or older.

Deaths, according to health officials, are also being broken down by age:

  • 0 deaths (0%) are among people ages 0 to 17
  • 5 deaths (0.5%) are among people ages 18 to 24
  • 45 deaths (4.6%) are among people ages 25-44
  • 247 deaths (25.1%)  are among people ages 45-64
  • 477 deaths (48.5%) are among people ages 65-84
  • 210 deaths (21.3%) are among people 85 years or older.

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