New COVID-19 cases fell nearly 24% in the eight days ending Tuesday in the Coachella Valley, according to new county data.
The nine Coachella Valley cities reported 268 new COVID-19 cases in the past eight days. The usual weekly update was not available Monday due to the holiday.
Infections have gone up and down in the last few weeks. New COVID-19 cases increased nearly 93% the week ending Oct. 4. There was a 59% decrease in cases the week ending Sept. 27, and a 20% decrease in cases the week ending Sept. 20.
Deaths week-over-week doubled, however. There were six reported deaths for the eight days ending Tuesday, compared to three the previous week.
Here is the full breakdown of confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries by city for the week ending Monday:
- Cathedral City: 8,223 confirmed cases (+42), 125 deaths (+1), 8,048 recoveries (+63)
- Coachella: 8,506 confirmed cases (+10), 105 deaths (+0), 8,378 recoveries (+23)
- Desert Hot Springs: 4,976 confirmed cases (+28), 79 deaths (+0), 4,857 recoveries (+46)
- Indian Wells: 232 confirmed cases (+2), 7 deaths (+0), 224 recoveries (+1)
- Indio: 14,114 confirmed cases (+70), 236 deaths (+0), 13,791 recoveries (+116)
- La Quinta: 4,259 confirmed cases (+37), 66 deaths (+1), 4,145 recoveries (+33)
- Palm Desert: 4,862 confirmed cases (+45), 130 deaths (+2), 4,683 recoveries (+41)
- Palm Springs: 4,625 confirmed cases (+23), 136 deaths (+1), 4,464 recoveries (+33)
- Rancho Mirage: 1,356 confirmed cases (+11), 52 deaths (+1), 1,294 recoveries (+13)
There were also 29 new COVID-19 cases and one death (in Sky Valley) reported in the past eight days in unincorporated communities.
Overall, Riverside County added 453 new COVID-19 cases since Friday.
There have been more than 3,100 COVID-19 cases reported in October, significantly less compared to August (more than 9,400 cases) and September (more than 8,100 cases) during the same time period.
The county’s case rate is 15.3 per 100,000, and its positivity rate is 5.7%. One month ago, both numbers were higher — 28.8 per 100,000 for the case rate, and a 7.7% positivity rate.
Riverside County has a “high” community transmission rate, which is defined as more than 100 cumulative cases per 100,000 residents in a week, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.
The Palm Springs Unified School District reported 19 students and one staff member across 27 schools have tested positive for COVID-19. Desert Hot Springs High Middle School has four confirmed active student cases, the most of any school in the district as of Tuesday.
The Desert Sands Unified School District reported 37 students and 12 staff members across 36 schools have tested positive for COVID-19. Palm Desert High School had reported six active cases among students and one among staff, the most of any school in the district as of Tuesday.
The Coachella Valley Unified School District on Tuesday reported a total of three active COVID-19 cases among students and one among staff. All cases are currently concentrated at Valley View Elementary School, according to the district.
For confirmed variants, there have been 587 delta, 169 alpha, 20 gamma and two beta cases from specimens collected between April and Aug. 30, according to data from Oct. 4. However, this could be a significant undercount, because the county said there is “a lag in the data of up to a month or more due to the time required for laboratories to sequence and report variant cases to the Public Health Department.”
Hospitalizations continue to drop in Riverside County and have fell below 300 on Tuesday. There are now 288 patients hospitalized — a number that hasn’t been seen since Aug. 2 — which is down 17 since Friday. There are also 77 individuals in intensive care.
No new deaths were reported Tuesday, and there have been 5,063 since the beginning of the pandemic. It is the first day since Aug. 30 that reported deaths have not increased.
In Riverside County, 59.1% of residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, while another 7.1% are partially vaccinated. The county reports 62,167 third/booster doses have been administered.
‘Pandemic will never really be over’
Health leaders in the state held a webinar Tuesday to discuss the current epidemiology of COVID-19 in California, as well as looking ahead to the next few months with vaccinations and other medical developments.
Kristian Andersen, a professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research and vice president of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, said that COVID-19 is now endemic, meaning it is commonly found among people as well as some animals. With that, it’s likely that the “pandemic will never really be over,” he said.
It’s expected that the virus will continue to evolve, as society has seen in recent months with new variants, but researchers are now questioning how rapidly that will happen. In the coming months and years, Andersen said “we should expect significant evolution of the virus.”
State Epidemiologist and Deputy Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Dr. Erica Pan said the state has among the lowest transmission rates in the continental United States, as well as one of the lowest deaths per capita rate.
The COVID-19 case surge was much higher this summer compared to last summer, Pan said, but deaths peaked at around the same rate or slightly lower. Pan credited high vaccination rates, masking and “other public health measures and interventions” as the reason for the lower numbers.
The 18 to 49 age group has experienced the highest case rates since April — a peak incident rate of nearly 300 cases per 100,000 on Aug. 9 — but the 0 to 17 age group has “started to catch up,” Pan said. The 5 to 11 age group saw a peak incident rate of more than 275 cases per 100,000 on Aug. 16.
California has also experienced increasing rates of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). There have been 629 cases and six deaths since January 2020. The median age among patients is 8, and more than half (51.2%) have needed intensive care. Males (60.6%) have predominately been affected.
But unlike other parts of the county, pediatric hospitalizations have stayed “very low” in California, Pan said.
As the state moves into the cooler months, Pan believes infections of other viruses will increase, such as rhinovirus (which cause the common cold) and other human coronaviruses.
“We are worried, especially as people do go more indoors over the winter, and if people start relaxing their mask use in certain high-risk settings, that we’re going to see more not only COVID-19 transmission, but other viruses as well,” Pan said.
Pan also noted that Merck submitted an emergency use authorization application to the Food and Drug Administration for molnupiravir, an oral antiviral medicine that can be used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in at-risk adults. Pfizer-BioNTech also applied for an emergency use authorization for a two-dose vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The FDA is slated to discuss the authorization during an Oct. 26 meeting. The two-dose vaccine contains one-third of the vaccine amount used in adults, according to Pan.
Seventh to 12th grade students will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting the term following full FDA approval. Based on current information, the requirement is expected to apply starting July 1, 2022.
Nearly 80% of the state’s eligible population has been vaccinated. Pan added that less than one million people have received booster doses, and the state has “not at all tapped our capacity.”
Where to get vaccinated in the Coachella Valley
Coachella: Every Friday at Todec Legal Center, 1560 Sixth St.; Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines available
Desert Hot Springs: Thursday at DPSS, 65-753 Pierson Blvd.; Pfizer vaccine available
Indio walk-in clinic: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at 47-923 Oasis St.; Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines available
Indio: Oct. 19 at DPSS, 44-199 Monroe St.; Pfizer vaccine available
Indio: Nov. 3 at Starbucks, 82-041 Ave 42; Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines available
Thermal: Saturday, Oct. 21 and Nov. 6 at the Coachella Valley Unified School District, 87225 Church St.; Pfizer vaccine available
Ema Sasic covers health in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @ema_sasic.