By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties all reported additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus Tuesday.

A masked couple walk their dogs Jan. 7 in front of the historic Riverside County Court House. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Riverside County health officials reported 11,552 newly confirmed cases and 44 additional fatalities, bringing countywide totals to 227,827 cases and 2,294 deaths. Of those who contracted the illness, 149,296 had recovered.

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There were a reported 1,660 coronavirus patients hospitalized Tuesday, 354 of whom were being treated in intensive care units — both slight decreases from Monday.

On Monday, Eisenhower Health in southeast Riverside County, tents were set up outside the emergency room in order to triage more patients.

“It’s unfortunately like watching a slow train crash, because we really know what’s going to happen now,” Dr. Alan Williamson said.

In the county, one in four people have COVID-19, and at Eisenhower l it’s closer to one in three.

“We’re seeing our positivity rate of our testing at over 30% now,” Williamson said.

Jose Arballo Jr., spokesperson for Riverside County Health, said this week’s alarming surge was a direct result of gatherings over the holiday.

“We asked everybody to think about their loved ones during Christmas,” he said. “It’s exactly what we said could happen if we weren’t careful.”

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The county’s overall intensive care unit use was at 133% Tuesday, with the majority of those patients on ventilators. Riverside University Health converted a storage room into a critical care room and Riverside Community Hospital converted a cafeteria and doubled up private rooms to accommodate the surge.

“We’re overwhelmed with the numbers, the volume,” Dr. Stephen Patterson, an emergency room physician at Riverside Community, said. “We’re doing everything that we can in the ER and the ICU to stay positive.”

Williamson said if the projections hold true, he expects to see twice as many patients in the hospital in the coming months as the surge peaks.

San Bernardino County health officials reported 3,121 newly confirmed cases and five additional fatalities, bringing the countywide total to 234,871 cases and 1,551 deaths. Of those who contracted the illness, 212,158 had recovered.

There were 1,692 coronavirus patients hospitalized as of Monday, 341 of whom were being treated in intensive care units — both substantial decreases from Sunday.

Ventura County health officials reported 1,326 newly confirmed cases and 21 additional fatalities, bringing countywide totals to 52,931 cases and 372 deaths. Of those who had contracted the illness, 45,636 had recovered and 6,923 were under active quarantine.

There were 449 coronavirus patients hospitalized Tuesday, 89 of whom were being treated in intensive care units — both slight increases from Monday.

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As of Tuesday evening, 1,875,458 Riverside County residents, 1,893,665 San Bernardino County residents and 803,685 Ventura County residents had been tested for COVID-19.