Inland Empire could see surge of COVID-19 cases at nursing homes

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside and San Bernardino counties are bracing for a surge in novel coronavirus cases, particularly in nursing homes.

During an update Tuesday morning at the Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting, health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the next surge of coronavirus patients will likely come from local nursing homes.

"With three nursing facilities in the midst of testing, and five more reports we are investigating, it is my belief that the surge will come from skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care facilities, where our most vulnerable patients already reside," Kaiser said.

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Not only have at least 27 people tested positive at Extended Care Hospital in Riverside, but health officials are looking at potential cases at Magnolia Rehab and Nursing.

"We are now in a situation where we must consider every patient to potentially be positive," Kaiser said.

In San Bernardino County, health officials are dealing with outbreaks at nursing homes in Yucaipa and Reche Canyon. They've formed a task force, including officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better address the problems.

"The health officer has put in place restrictions on mobility of staff between facilities to avoid cross contamination," said Gary McBride, San Bernardino County CEO. "So, there's a whole laundry list of things they're going through, not only on the response side, but on the preventative side for places without cases yet, so hopefully we can avoid them."

Despite snow falling in local mountains, officials are telling people not to visit.

"Now is not the time for snow play, it's not the time to visit," said San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford. "You're not going to find the services you're looking for."
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