The nine Coachella Valley cities saw a slight increase in COVID-19 cases in the week ending Tuesday just as thousands of festivalgoers from all over the world gathered for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The nine cities reported 193 new cases in the week ending Tuesday. That is a 77% increase from the previous week, when there were 109 cases reported between April 5 and 12.
The latest report from the Palm Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant shows that the omicron subvariant, BA.2, is spreading in the city. There was a 75.1% and 87.3% detection rate of BA.2 in samples from April 11 and 12, respectively. The average number of COVID-19 concentration per liter of wastewater recorded at the city’s treatment plant also continues to slightly increase each week.
Thousands of people descended upon the Coachella Valley this past weekend for Coachella Weekend 1, and thousands more are expected for Weekend 2, as well as next week for Stagecoach country music festival.
County spokesperson Jose Arballo Jr. The Desert Sun there is “always a concern” for potential COVID-19 spread whenever there is a large gathering, but the hope is that festivalgoers are largely vaccinated and will opt to wear facial coverings.
A majority of attendees observed, however, were not wearing masks on the grounds during Weekend 1.
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: 12,285 confirmed cases (+13), 150 deaths (+0), 12,094 recoveries (+19)
- Coachella: 12,823 confirmed cases (+15), 121 deaths (+0), 12,687 recoveries (+15)
- Desert Hot Springs: 7,743 confirmed cases (+7), 99 deaths (+0), 7,630 recoveries (+11)
- Indian Wells: 594 confirmed cases (+11), 8 deaths (+0), 568 recoveries (+9)
- Indio: 22,265 confirmed cases (+34), 279 deaths (+1), 21,910 recoveries (+33)
- La Quinta: 7,799 confirmed cases (+26), 82 deaths (+0), 7,662 recoveries (+22)
- Palm Desert: 9,134 confirmed cases (+36), 147 deaths (+0), 8,922 recoveries (+32)
- Palm Springs: 7,761 confirmed cases (+31), 156 deaths (+0), 7,539 recoveries (+24)
- Rancho Mirage: 2,549 confirmed cases (+20), 56 deaths (+0), 2,464 recoveries (+25)
There were also 14 COVID-19 cases reported in unincorporated communities for the week ending Tuesday.
COVID-19 cases have also gone up in general throughout Riverside County over the past week.
Riverside County added 526 cases between Friday and Tuesday. That is up nearly 17% from last week, when there were 450 reported between April 8 and 12.
The county’s case and positivity rates have also increased. On Tuesday, the case rate was 4.1 per 100,000, and the positivity rate was 2.4%. On April 12, those rates were 3.1 per 100,000 and 1.7%, respectively.
These come right as airlines and other public transit announced they’re easing their masking requirements.
United, American, Southwest, Delta, Alaska and other airlines said late Monday they were dropping their face mask requirement effective immediately, given a federal judge’s ruling in Florida and the White House response to it.
The mask mandate, announced in January 2021, had been set to expire Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that it would keep it in place until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus that is responsible for the majority of cases in the country. It was the mask mandate’s fifth extension despite repeated requests from airlines and other travel industry officials to ease restrictions.
Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer enforce the masking order, it still “continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time,” said a statement on the CDC’s website.
The Coachella Valley’s SunLine Transit Agency also announced Tuesday that it will make masks optional for customers on the fixed route network (SunBus), paratransit (SunDial), microtransit (SunRide) and 10 Commuter Link services, effective immediately.
“Our mask mandate has been based on federal guidance,” said CEO/General Manager Lauren Skiver in a statement. “We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds, but masks will be optional for customers until further notice.”
Riverside County reported 43 hospital patients on Tuesday, down 11 from Friday. Tuesday’s number includes seven people in intensive care.
There were also seven deaths reported between Friday and Tuesday, bringing the total to 6,504 since the beginning of the pandemic.
In Riverside County, 62.1% of residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated and another 6.7% are partially vaccinated. About 32.5% of the population ages 12 and older has received an additional/booster shot.
Ema Sasic covers health in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ema_sasic.