COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the Coachella Valley and Riverside County as the area heads into hotter days, but some health experts say the rise won’t be as devastating as the previous two summers.
The nine Coachella Valley cities added 558 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Tuesday. That is a 70% increase from the previous week, when there were 328 cases reported between April 26 and May 3.
Case numbers have climbed steadily in the past month in the valley. The cities reported 109 COVID-19 cases in the week ending April 12, prior to the start of music festival season in the area.
The average number of virus copies recorded at the Palm Springs wastewater treatment plant has increased again as well, according to its latest report. The average of 617,875 virus copies per liter of wastewater from the week of April 25 has increased to an average of 893,852 copies per liter of wastewater for May 2 and 3, the report states. There was an 81% and 90.2% detection rate of the omicron subvariant in samples from May 2 and 3, respectively.
Here is a full breakdown of confirmed total cases, deaths and recoveries by city since the start of the pandemic (with weekly changes shown in parentheses):
- Cathedral City: 12,393 confirmed cases (+53), 150 deaths (+0), 12,184 recoveries (+47)
- Coachella: 12,906 confirmed cases (+62), 121 deaths (+0), 12,742 recoveries (+48)
- Desert Hot Springs: 7,771 confirmed cases (+19), 99 deaths (+0), 7,650 recoveries (+15)
- Indian Wells: 609 confirmed cases (+7), 8 deaths (+0), 590 recoveries (+7)
- Indio: 22,520 confirmed cases (+121), 280 deaths (+0), 22,127 recoveries (+106)
- La Quinta: 7,973 confirmed cases (+81), 82 deaths (+0), 7,818 recoveries (+65)
- Palm Desert: 9,329 confirmed cases (+105), 148 deaths (+0), 9,091 recoveries (+84)
- Palm Springs: 7,927 confirmed cases (+67), 156 deaths (+0), 7,699 recoveries (+62)
- Rancho Mirage: 2,644 confirmed cases (+43), 56 deaths (+0), 2,543 recoveries (+39)
Riverside County also added 1,494 new COVID-19 cases between Friday and Tuesday. That represents an increase of nearly 44% from the 1,038 cases reported between April 29 and May 3.
Health experts expect COVID-19 cases to rise this summer, but they said the wave won’t be as devastating as the previous two summers or the surge of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Unlike the previous summers, most of the U.S. population has some immunity against the coronavirus from vaccines, boosters and previous infections. People have access to antivirals that can prevent hospitalizations in the unvaccinated.
However, immunity wanes and new variants could evade what protection remains.
“I know we all want to be done with COVID, but I don’t think it’s done with us,” said Dr. Jessica Justman, associate professor of medicine in epidemiology and senior technical director of ICAP at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
COVID-19’s continued grip can be seen in Riverside County’s case and positivity rates, which have also increased over the past few weeks. On Tuesday, the case rate was 10.2 per 100,000, and the positivity rate was 5.1%. On April 12, those numbers were 3.1 per 1000,000 and 1.7%.
While hospitalizations have remained low, the county saw a slight bump over the last few days. There were 50 patients hospitalized on Tuesday, up 16 from Friday. That also includes eight people in intensive care, which remained the same.
One silver lining is that there were no new deaths reported between Friday and Tuesday in Riverside County. There have been a total of 6,525 COVID-19-related deaths in the county since the beginning of the pandemic.
In Riverside County, 62.4% of residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated and another 6.5% are partially vaccinated. About 32.7% of the population ages 12 and older has received an additional/booster shot.
USA Today contributed to this report.
Ema Sasic covers health in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @ema_sasic.