Credit: www.nj.com

Breanna Reeves |

Riverside County experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases following the annual Coachella music festival that took place two weekends in a row.

In the last 14 days, Riverside County has seen cases increase by 158 percent and has an average daily case rate of 312 new cases, according to the New York Times’ Case Tracker Map.

The popular music festival attracted thousands of attendants from across California and beyond who gathered in the desert for the annual music event. After the festival was canceled two years in a row due to the pandemic, many were eager to attend this year’s event. 

Riverside County experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases following the annual Coachella music festival that took place two weekends in a row. (source: newyorktimes.com)

Hosted in the city of Indio from April 15 through 17 and April 22 through 24, the festival welcomed more than 100,000 guests, not including people who flock to the valley to attend day parties outside of the festival.

Omicron BA.2 continues to account for the majority of cases in the county as reported by the Palm Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant’s weekly wastewater surveillance report. Palm Springs voluntarily participates in sampling its wastewater for the detection of COVID-19.

Launched in September 2020 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) was developed to track the presence of the virus in wastewater samples collected across the country. In doing so, local health departments can work to prevent the spread of the virus with the detection of the virus in wastewater.

According to San Bernardino County Public Information Officer David Wert, San Bernardino County is currently working with the state to conduct wastewater surveillance and identifying ways to possibly increase this effort.

Wastewater surveillance captures presence of SARS-CoV-2 shed by people with and without symptoms. By measuring SARS-CoV-2 levels in untreated wastewater over time, public health officials can determine if infections are increasing or decreasing in a sewershed. (source:palmspringsca.gov/)

As of April 26, 86.9 percent of the virus detected in the wastewater from the treatment plant was Omicron BA.2. 

With COVID-19 restrictions fading in the state, the outdoor festival did not require proof of vaccination, testing or masking although they did have on-site COVID-19 testing available and issued a warning about potential exposure to COVID at the event.

As the summer season approaches and more large-scale events take place in and near the region such as the Los Angeles County Fair which takes place in Pomona this month, surrounding counties could experience another steady increase in COVID-19 cases.

Breanna Reeves

Breanna Reeves is a reporter in Riverside, California, and uses data-driven reporting to cover issues that affect the lives of Black Californians. Breanna joins Black Voice News as a Report for America Corps member. Previously, Breanna reported on activism and social inequality in San Francisco and Los Angeles, her hometown. Breanna graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Print & Online Journalism. She received her master’s degree in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics. Contact Breanna with tips, comments or concerns at breanna@voicemediaventures.com or via twitter @_breereeves.