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RivCo health officials discuss threat of new variants and current COVID-19 trends

Health officials released updated COVID-19 numbers for Riverside County on Tuesday. 

While hospitalizations are down by 60 since last Friday, this comes as 1,900 new cases were reported along with 12 deaths. 

“One of the things that we expected...which is a sad thing, the deaths are going up again. They’re double digits,” said Jose Arballo, Riverside County Dept. of Public Health. 

The county says they do expect this double digit trend to continue as cases have been surging in recent weeks. 

And while it’s too early to tell the impact of Labor Day travel and gatherings, the county is bracing for another spike in cases in 2-3 weeks. 

Meanwhile, the county’s Department of Public Health continues to track “variants of concern.”  

“The Delta variant continues to be the dominant one here in Riverside County,” said Arballo. 

Although Delta is the current dominant strain, officials are also tracking the Alpha, Gamma and Beta variants locally as “variants of concern.” 

Others are emerging as “variants of interest” as well. LA county officials reported this week that the Mu variant was detected in 167 people this summer. 

“It hasn’t been reported to us yet...but the likelihood that it would be in other counties and not here, is unlikely,” said Arballo, when asked if the Mu variant had been detected in Riverside County as well.

With these new contagious variants evolving and spreading, Arballo says the biggest concern is that eventually there will be variant completely resistant to the vaccines.  

Officials locally and nationally say the best way to prevent that from happening is for the population to get vaccinated now while the vaccines are effective.  

While nearly 1 million people here in Riverside County are not fully vaccinated, Dr. Fauci says 75 million eligible people nationwide remain unvaccinated -- adding those numbers will determine the duration of the pandemic. “If we get the overwhelming majority of those people vaccinated, we could turn this around," said Dr. Fauci.

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Madison Weil

Madison Weil joined the KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 News Team in June 2018. Learn more about Madison here.

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