RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — After the three-day weekend, Riverside County health officials Tuesday reported 128 additional coronavirus deaths and 16,537 newly confirmed infections.
The total number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March is 250,436, compared to 233,899 on Friday, according to the Riverside University Health System.
The county's coronavirus death toll rose to 2,645. The fatalities reported Tuesday span from Dec. 7 to Jan. 17, according to RUHS spokesman Jose Arballo. Virus-related fatalities continue to be trailing indicators because delays processing death certificates often stretch back over several weeks.
Hospitalizations countywide were at 1,524 Tuesday, a drop of 39 from Friday. That includes 344 intensive care unit patients — nine fewer than Friday. Hospitalization figures have steadily been dropping since early last week.
Meanwhile, Riverside County reported that a recent state warning regarding a particular batch of the Moderna vaccine is not expected to impact the county's vaccination efforts.
The state warned providers to stop administering doses from the batch due to a "higher-than-usual number of possible allergic reactions."
San Diego County health officials confirmed last week that a half-dozen health care workers who were inoculated at the vaccination center at Petco Park had suffered allergic reactions.
In Riverside County, health officials said the Moderna vaccine doses being used at county-run vaccination clinics scheduled for this week are not from that batch.
Officials also said that shipments of vaccine distributed from the county to private providers countywide are also not thought to be from the affected batch.
Adverse reactions at both county-run vaccine clinics and private entities within Riverside County have so far been rare, officials said.
"We are checking with our partners, and at this time, we have not found any within Riverside County providers. We are also not aware of providers that have seen adverse reactions. We continue to see that adverse reactions are rare," county Executive Office spokeswoman Brooke Federico said.
According to the state, more than 330,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were included in the affected lot, and they were distributed to 287 locations across California. The 330,000 doses are roughly 10 percent of the 3.2 million doses the state has received overall from Moderna and Pfizer.
No other significant issues with allergic reactions have occurred at any other location where the affected lot was distributed, according to the state. It was not clear which other locations received the affected doses.
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is high in Riverside County and doses are extremely limited.
There are 2.4 million residents in Riverside County, including approximately 343,000 seniors aged 65 or older. The estimate for the number of people currently eligible to receive the vaccine in Riverside County is in excess of 700,000.
Yet, Riverside County has only received 157,775 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 80 percent of those doses have gone to state-approved providers, including hospitals, physicians, clinics and pharmacies to vaccinate workers and residents within the current tiers. Shipments are usually received weekly and either distributed to providers or administered at a public health vaccine clinic in 2-3 days, according to county officials.
“This is not a volunteer issue. This is not a venue issue. This is a vaccine issue,” said Board Chair Karen Spiegel, Second District Supervisor. “We’ve had plans in place for mass distribution for some time. Plans and places are not the concern. We do not have enough vaccine available to meet the demand.”
The demand is so great that when thousands of vaccine clinic appointments were opened Wednesday and Friday last week, all available timeslots on all days were completely booked within two hours. More than 5,600 appointments were booked on Wednesday and another 11,000 booked Friday. Clinic appointments are currently booked until Friday, Jan. 22.
There are more than 175 state-approved vaccine providers in Riverside County. Residents should ask their doctor, urgent care or pharmacy if they are an approved provider and when they expect to have vaccine. To see a complete list of all providers in Riverside County, including where the doses have been allocated, visit www.ruhealth.org/covid-19-vaccine.
“This is a time when we need to work together and not direct focus to areas that are not the problem,” said V. Manuel Perez, Fourth District Supervisor. “This is a supply and demand problem. We continue to seek help from our federal and state partners to increase the amount of vaccine we receive here in Riverside County."
—City News Service contributed to this report.