COVID-19 in Inland Empire: Hospitalizations way up in Riverside County

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in Riverside County. One patient said that the onslaught of COVID patients at one local facility has "exploded."

Bruce McMahon broke his back in January, and ever since getting out of the hospital, he's been getting treatment at Community Care and Rehab in Riverside. He says they've been testing everyone for COVID every week or so. On Saturday he tested positive.

"I had a sore throat then, I have no symptoms now," McMahon said.

He says staff is moving all of the COVID-19 patients to one part of the facility.

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"I feel fine, but they put me in a room with a guy that has it real bad," said Charles Williamson, a patient.

McMahon said there seems to be a big influx of COVID patients at the facility.

"We always had one or two, sometimes we even had no COVID patients, but now it's kind of exploded," he described.

McMahon showed Eyewitness News a note that was sent to family members saying there are currently 14 positive patients in the facility.

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"This is particularly concerning because that's some of our most medically vulnerable people right there, those folks can't get away from it, they're stuck with it," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County's health officer.

Kaiser says hospitalizations are rising all across the county.

"Hospitalizations are the last line of defense, it's a really expensive way to do disease control," he said.

Meantime, the city of Riverside is now doing its own contact-free COVID testing. People can drive up, and they're given a test to administer themselves.

Right now, it's just the city of Riverside that's doing this, but Riverside County is in the process of finalizing a contract to bring operations like this one countywide.

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If the worsening trend continues, Orange County could soon land in the purple tier, the most restrictive tier in the state's reopening framework.

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