Both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are asking residents to gather responsibly this Thanksgiving as COVID-19 numbers rose quickly in November.
At a press conference Tuesday, Riverside County Public Health Director Dr. Kim Saruwatari urged residents to plan "smaller, shorter and safer" holiday celebrations.
“So as we get ready for Thanksgiving, we have a choice to make," said Saruwatari. "We can take the precautions being asked of us hoping that the numbers are manageable afterwards, or we can choose to ignore safety guidelines, get together in large groups, not wear face masks, and sit close together. We hope that the latter does not happen.”
The county’s current surge is the highest since the summer peak in August. Total cases recently surpassed 80,000 and the number of hospitalizations nearly tripled this month to over 400 patients.
While hospitals are much better prepared to handle a surge, County Chair of Family Medicine, Dr. Geoffrey Leung, said it is concerning to see the rate of cases growing faster than ever before.
“Hospitals are starting to feel the strain," said Leung. "If the current trend continues, we could be seeing two to three times as many COVID hospitalizations and ICU cases this time in December.”
In neighboring San Bernardino County, it saw its highest number of new cases since the pandemic started as totals surpassed 85,000, and hospitalizations doubled to over 500. Just during the past week alone, the county averaged more than 1,400 new cases per day.
For the Thanksgiving holiday, San Bernardino County is encouraging residents through its social media to stay home and save lives by scheduling phone calls and video chats in place of large gatherings. More information can be found at sbcovid19.com.