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Monkeypox: 3 confirmed, 10 probable cases in eastern Riverside County

There are now 13 probable or confirmed cases of Monkeypox in Eastern Riverside County, a spokesperson reports. The number of confirmed monkeypox cases in Riverside
County rose to three, while probable cases rose to 10, under updated numbers released today.

Jose Arballo, the spokesperson for Riverside University Health System, said all of the cases are in men, described only as between 30 and 60 years old, all in eastern Riverside County.

Arballo says the seven new cases are found in men who live in our area and are between 30 and 60 years of age.

As of last Friday, July 22, Riverside County had reported 6 people have probable or confirmed cases of Monkeypox. 11 people have been tested for it through the county public health department, but testing is starting to expand to commercial labs.

Riverside County has fewer monkeypox cases when compared to some other counties in the state, especially those nearby. As of last Thursday, the county with the most probable and confirmed cases is San Francisco, followed by Los Angeles.

  • San Francisco: 159 cases
  • Los Angeles: 121 cases
  • San Diego: 20 cases
  • San Bernardino: 1 cases

The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health confirmed that area's first positive case of Monkeypox late last week.

News Channel 3 asked why Riverside County is not reporting case numbers as separate totals: confirmed cases and probable cases. A spokesperson said the combined total is in line with how other counties report their data.

Some local clinics are currently distributing monkeypox vaccines they received from Riverside county last week. News Channel 3 does not know for sure exactly how many doses from the state allotment have made it into the Coachella Valley. However, the county had about 1,000 doses, or enough for 500patients, for the entire county.

County officials said they are keeping a supply on hand in case of a "Large-scale exposure event." But we've learned from local providers hundreds of doses have made it to Coachella Valley. 

Some of those include DAP health, Eisenhower health, and Borrego Health.

"There was a significant demand for vaccines right now to prevent monkeypox," said CJ Tobe, DAP Health Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness. "The staff came in today with over 50 voicemails from the community. I was contacted by over 100 people over the weekend because they want to know where can they get this vaccine."

DAP plans to vaccinate 160 people by Wednesday. At Eisenhower Health, more than 70 doses have been given, and they have about 50 more. And at Borrego Health, all of their doses have been given which was about 100. All three providers are only giving vaccines to those who are most at risk. They plan to expand vaccinations once additional shipments arrive. 

There has been at least one confirmed case of Monkeypox in Coachella Valley. News Channel 3 spoke exclusively with the man who was the first locally confirmed patient. He shared his story to help others at risk.

Watch: I-Team Exclusive: Riverside County’s first confirmed Monkeypox patient speaks out

Vaccine distribution plans

Arballo told City News Service that county health officials have distributed 116 doses of monkeypox vaccines to DAP Health, Eisenhower Health, Borrego Health, and RUHS' HIV clinic in the Coachella Valley from the county's limited supply.

He added that the county had a little more than 1,000 doses of the two-dose-regimen JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine, enough for about 500 people, before they were distributed into the Coachella Valley.

A portion of Riverside County's supply of the JYNNEOS vaccines will be maintained by Public Health in case a large-scale exposure event occurs, according to a statement from RUHS.

Last week, a DAP health director told News Channel 3 reporter Jake Ingrassia that the clinic received 80 of those vaccines, despite having a list of 700 patients eligible.

"By the end of Tuesday, all vaccines will be distributed and administered. Upon which we'll be sending another email...saying, 'Hey, give us more vaccines,'" said CJ Tobe, DAP Health's director of community health and sexual wellness.

More: Eisenhower Health, Riverside County secure Monkeypox vaccine allotment from CA

‘Hotspot waiting to happen’: Concern grows over Monkeypox vaccine availability in Palm Springs

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health advise that the vaccine be prioritized for high-risk and exposed patients.

When people in Riverside County right now try to find a vaccine or a test for Monkeypox, some are saying the process is confusing and stressful.

Vaccines are just starting to be administered locally and there are hundreds, if not more, already waiting for their protection.

David Wichman is a Cathedral City sex worker and massage therapist. With concern growing among the gay community about Monkeypox, he said his business has dried up.

Video: Some local gay resorts close parts of facilities in response to Monkeypox

"We're a hotspot waiting to happen. That's what it feels like to me," he said. "That rollout has been really slow and very aggravating."

Rep. Ruiz: Palm Springs at ‘extremely high risk for monkeypox contraction’

Rep. Raul Ruiz is asking the state of California to allocate additional doses of monkeypox vaccines to the Coachella Valley, citing high-risk factors and claiming that "California’s vaccine distribution strategy continues to overlook the Palm Springs area."

 As of Friday, a total of 356 monkeypox cases were confirmed in California -- the second-highest of any state, behind New York's 900 -- while nationwide, the aggregate count was at 2,891, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Resources

There are a number of ways to prevent the spread of monkeypox, including:

  • Always talking to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the genitals and anus
  • Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • People who become infected should isolate until their symptoms are improving or have gone away completely. Rash should always be well covered until completely healed.
  • Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown, and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms
  • Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus
  • Avoiding contact with infected animals

Monkeypox is generally spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, resulting from infectious rashes and scabs, though respiratory secretions and bodily fluids exchanged during extended physical episodes, such as sexual intercourse, can also lead to transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Symptoms include fresh pimples, blisters, rashes, fever and fatigue. There is no specific treatment. People who have been infected with smallpox, or have been vaccinated for it, may have immunity to monkeypox.

People with symptoms are urged to visit a medical provider, cover the rash area with clothing, wear a mask and avoid close or skin-to-skin contact with others.

The CDC particularly recommends those steps for people who recently traveled to an area where monkeypox cases have been reported or who have had contact with a confirmed or suspected monkeypox case.

A full list of countries that have confirmed monkeypox cases is available at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/monkeypox.
A state-by-state tally of cases is available at www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/us-map.html.

Link: CDC’s tips for preventing exposure to Monkeypox. 

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage.

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