S.E. Williams | Executive Editor
By the end of October more than nine million Americans had contracted COVID-19 and more than a quarter of a million people had succumbed to the deadly virus, including nearly 2,400 across the inland region.
After ravaging the inland region in August which resulted in the area’s deadliest month to date, the virus appeared to pace itself through September and most of October. Now the virus appears to be heading for another deadly wave.
With the approaching winter, as many scientists and medical experts predicted, the virus is once again spreading quickly as indicated by data pointing to a rapid increase in positive tests, rising hospitalizations, and increased deaths are expected to follow in the coming days and weeks.
Data show the inland region is being impacted by the increase and may once again be on the verge of a looming COVID-19 crisis. Today, both Riverside and San Bernardino counties are among the most impacted counties in California.
When state officials recently returned Riverside County to the most restrictive “Purple” tier” as it relates to opening the county, local health officials encouraged all residents to get tested. They further stressed, “The best ways for residents to protect themselves and loved ones is to continue to wear face coverings, avoid social gatherings and mixing of households, keep six feet of distance from others and frequent hand-washing.” Health officials note that when all these things are done, we protect ourselves up to 95 percent.”
The positivity rate in the county stood at 5.6% on October 30, compared to the desired rate of 5%. Fourth District Supervisor and Riverside County Board Chair V. Manuel Perez encouraged residents when the county returned to the “Purple” tier, “We have been through this situation before and we have the tools to get back into the red tier.” He added, “Let’s all work together, focus on getting tested and wearing face masks, so we can get back to red.”
However, cases in the county continued to rise between October 27 and October 30. For example, the number of positive cases in the county climbed from 66,993 to 68,050.
As the number of positive cases continue to rise in the county, Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser reiterated the importance of testing. “If you’re medically vulnerable, detecting the infection early might reduce your risk of complications, and even if you’re well, it means you can take precautions sooner to avoid spreading it to your family or workplace.”
“If we can get less spread, fewer people will be at risk, and that’s the most important goal,” Kaiser concluded.
Testing is free at a county or state-run site and available for anyone. There are 12 testing sites spread throughout Riverside County offering both walk-in and drive-up services. To find county and state-run locations and make an appointment, go online to gettested.ruhealth.org. For a list of other COVID-19 test sites in your area, click https://covid19.ca.gov/get-tested/.
In San Bernardino County there were a total of 64,952 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of October 31. Between October 27 and October 30, the number of positive cases increased from 63,637 to 64,367. The virus in both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is rated as widespread by the state.
During the seven-day period ending October 31, San Bernardino County averaged 377.3 new cases daily. In addition, although the virus is widespread across the county, the City of Riverside experienced the highest number of positive cases at 10,186. Data shows the number of hospitalizations in the county are also on the rise.
In the meantime, considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, San Bernardino County officials have urged residents to prepare for the coming flu season.
“The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated,” insisted Dr. Erin Gustafson, the county’s Interim Health Officer. “Early vaccination will provide protection throughout the season and into the spring.”
Like Riverside County officials, San Bernardino leaders also encourage residents to get tested for the virus stressing, “You can do your part by getting tested.”
There is now free testing every Saturday in Rialto, Yucaipa and Victorville through November 21 at the following locations:
- the Department of Behavioral Health Auditorium located at 850 E, Foothill Blvd., Rialto,
- the Yucaipa Performing Arts Center located at 12052 California St., Yucaipa
- and at Victor Valley College located at 71 Mojave Fish Hatchery Rd., Victorville.
For a list of all testing sites in San Bernardino County visit sbcovid19.com/testing-sites/.
S. E. Williams is editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News.