RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — Coronavirus cases in Riverside County will likely double every four to five days, the Riverside University Health System estimated Thursday.
Coronavirus-related deaths could rise to 125 times the current figure in the next month, according to RUHS.
“We’re trying to change the curve and slow down the rate of infection,” RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung said during a news briefing at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in downtown Riverside. “But…if we stay on the same doubling rate, [by early May] we could have over 1,000 deaths and 50,000 new cases.”
Leung said he based his estimates on local approximations and nationwide trends.
“By April 12, all hospital beds [in the county] will be used up, and if we stay on the same doubling rate, we’ll be out of ventilators in the April 22-May 5 period,” Leung said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 107 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight virus-related deaths in Riverside County. More than 3,000 residents have been tested for coronavirus, and the local mortality rate is around one percent, officials said.
Remaining hopeful, Leung referenced a rapid slowdown in the rate of infection in New Rochelle, New York, where a major cluster of COVID-19 infections was documented two weeks ago. After closely monitored isolation measures were implemented, the rate dropped dramatically.
“They lengthened the doubling time by two weeks,” Leung said. “If all of you do everything you can, together we can get through this.”
County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser would not give a specific number of COVID-19 patients who have recovered. He said that, while a person’s symptoms may subside, viral transmission can continue “for a long period of time.”
“We’re trying to make sure the earliest cases meet criteria” for classification as recovered, he said.
On Wednesday, the California National Guard began setting up a temporary hospital at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio in anticipation of an increase in cases of COVID-19.
The federal medical station includes all equipment needed for a hospital — beds, bed sheets, portable sinks, medication and 740 complete units of personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, gowns and face shields.
Half of the materials will be used to set up a station in existing buildings on the fairgrounds. The remaining materials will be used to set up an identical 125 bed facility in western Riverside County. The site for the secondary location was not immediately disclosed.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)