Riverside County officials on Thursday reported 18 new deaths and 1,377 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number of infections reported in one day for the county since the pandemic began.
Those numbers do include a backlog in test results, but officials said even if you eliminate those numbers, it would still be the highest one-day total for the county to date.
Hospitalization rates have also been steadily increasing in Riverside County. As of Thursday, over 500 were hospitalized with the virus, 117 of them in intensive care. Nearly 9,250 individuals have recovered from the virus.
"The fact that we've got multiple numbers going up, including our positivity rate and case rate, shows that we still have a substantial problem with transmission in the Inland Empire," said county public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. "If you have this number of cases running around, and we know that not everybody is staying home, then we're going to have more of these cases tomorrow."
Kaiser said there are a lot of factors driving the increases, including recent protests and people not wearing masks or practicing physical distancing. The "vast majority" of the spread happens in private gatherings, Kaiser said, but recently opened bars, restaurants and office spaces also play a role.
Officials say more cases means it's harder for contact tracers to do their jobs.
Kaiser wouldn't speculate on whether closures of certain businesses would be reinstated if the concerning number trends persist, but said it's difficult to say either way.
"We're probably going to have to look at X, Y and Z and make a whole lot of other changes which are now going to be even more disruptive to our economy and our daily lives. The real tragedy is this is ultimately all preventable," Kaiser said.
Riverside County confirms 1,377 new COVID-19 cases, highest single-day total to date