More Riverside County COVID-19 outbreaks seen in 10 days than in all December –

So far this month, Riverside County has recorded more coronavirus outbreaks at schools and workplaces than in all of December, the county’s public health director told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Also, infected county residents spread the virus to more people on average than other Californians, Kim Saruwatari said.

Riverside County Director of Public Health Kim Saruwatari, seen June 9, 2020, updated county supervisors Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, on the current coronavirus surge. (File photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

The county defines an outbreak as three or more cases in a particular setting. In the past 10 days, 128 outbreaks have been reported at businesses, Saruwatari said, adding that 84 business outbreaks were reported in December.

Of those outbreaks, five were considered major, meaning they involved 20 or more cases, Saruwatari said. Of December’s 84 outbreaks, 14 were defined as major.

There have been 20 reported outbreaks at schools in the county so far this month, compared to 76 last month, she said.

The surge in outbreaks and cases comes amid a global spike in COVID-19 cases due to the more infectious omicron variant. As of Monday, Jan. 10, the county’s seven-day case count was 17,975. In late November, it was just 2,415.

The county’s case rate is currently 103 per 100,000, higher than the 14 cases per 100,000 seen Nov. 29 but below the current state average of 108.7 per 100,000.

It’s also lower than the 151.5 per 100,000 cases the county recorded during the last winter surge in early January 2021, though Saruwatari cautioned that officials think the current case count “is a fairly large underrepresentation” of actual cases because of a lack of testing or because antigen tests don’t always get reported to the county.

The county’s COVID-19 death rate isn’t matching the rise in cases, Saruwatari said. About 90% of its COVID-19 deaths are among unvaccinated people, she said, adding that the unvaccinated also account for about 90% of the county’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.

In California, the average infected person spreads the virus to 1.58 people. But in Riverside County, infected residents are likely to spread it to two other people, “which is why we’re seeing such a huge increase in cases,” Saruwatari said.

The higher infection rate could result in part from the types of businesses in the county, she said.

“We have a lot of hospitality industry — a lot of interaction between people,” Saruwatari said, adding that the county has areas in which it’s harder to access COVID-19 resources.

Countywide, 65.9% of those 5 and older, 72.8% of those 18 and older and 82.7% of those 65 and older are vaccinated, Saruwatari said.

But just 24.4% of those 16 and older who are eligible for a booster shot have received one, and Saruwatari said the county “is making a big push around boosters, because we do know, particularly with (the) omicron variant, that having that booster dose is very protective and lessens the chance of having severe disease.”

Vaccinated residents have about a 1-in-100 chance of getting COVID-19, while unvaccinated residents have a 1-in-4 chance….

Read More: More Riverside County COVID-19 outbreaks seen in 10 days than in all December –

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