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Riverside County COVID-19 numbers continue to rise; concern with young people gathering and skilled nursing facilities

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Riverside County remains in the purple, most restrictive tier. Our current positivity rate is 6.7 and our adjusted case rate is 14 per 100,000 people.

According to the Riverside County Public Health Department at the Riverside County board of supervisor's meeting today, the group with the most infections in our county are those between 15 and 30 years old.

Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the public health officer for the Riverside County Public Health Department urged people not to gather.

The county health department also said we need 60 to 70 percent herd immunity and right now we are at about 20 to 25 percent herd immunity.

As hospitalizations and ICU rates rise, another area of concern mentioned by the county is the uptick in cases at skilled nursing facilities.

Local health officials are alarmed by an uptick in coronavirus cases at skilled nursing facilities and they say they know just how the virus is getting inside.

"The problem we believe that's occurring in these facilities is that staff is bringing it in," Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County Public Health Officer told the Riverside County board of supervisors Tuesday.

"It's obviously not the people that are there. They're not going anywhere," he added.

The county has tracked 1,832 skilled nursing facility residents and 759 staff members who contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

One local facility, ManorCare Health in Palm Desert, responded in a statement, saying in part, "We are only seeing a spike in a few areas of the country which matches what is happening in that community." They’re continuing their efforts to contain the virus.

To keep residents and staff safe, the county deployed four skilled nursing facilities outreach support teams (SOS teams) in May because of a huge jump in cases at these facilities.

"With the SOS teams it's not only to make sure they have enough equipment but also that they have enough staff and that staff are actually following best practices," Dr. Kaiser said.

The teams travel to facilities around the county and provide education on the virus and proper handling of PPE.

"We also remind them of the things we tell the public to do where your mask, social distance, don't go to gatherings," Jose Arballo, public information officer with Riverside County Department of Public Health told News Channel 3.

Arballo said there’s continual retraining.

"There's a lot of turnover in these types of facilities," he added.

Now, the county only has one team deployed and two teams on standby.

"If we need to add more teams we will. We have that capability and we can have a quick turnaround to respond if that's needed," Arballo said.

Cases in these facilities only make up 3.5% of our total coronavirus cases in the county, but the death rate makes up 26.4% of our total deaths.

Arballo said the SOS teams are working.

"We've gotten quite a bit of response from these facilities, a very strong support and thanks for the work we've been doing," he said.

Full statement from ManorCare Health:

Where covid is increasing in certain parts of the country, we have seen some spikes in positive cases in our facilities as well. The ability to test regularly (in most facilities we test weekly) and have access to proper PPE has enable us to be able to contain the virus. Most individuals testing positive are asymptomatic so being able to quarantine or isolate earlier has helped manage the virus.

Our mortality rate has decreased along with our number of cases and for the most part is due to access to PPE, following infection control procedures and ongoing testing for everyone coming to our facilities. We are only seeing a spike in a few areas of the country which matches what is happening in that community. We are doing well with PPE but the cost for PPE and weekly testing along with temporary staffing when we have employees out, is significant for us and across the industry.

As we open our centers to visitations, that is a benefit to the wellbeing of our patients but also a concern to ensure that everyone follows infection control processes.

Coronavirus / News Headlines / Top Stories

Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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