Report: Unvaccinated people 27x more likely to get COVID than vaccinated in Riverside County – Desert Sun

Unvaccinated individuals ages 12 and older in Riverside County had 27 times the risk of getting COVID-19 and 112 times the risk of dying from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated individuals, according to data between January and August from Riverside County Public Health.

The county earlier this week released additional information regarding COVID-19 cases in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals ages 12 and older. The last update with vaccination status occurred in late August. At that time, unvaccinated individuals ages 12 and older in Riverside County were 37 times more likely to get COVID-19 and 120 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their vaccinated counterparts, but a time frame was not specified.

The new report states that among 918,022 unvaccinated individuals, there were 133,907 COVID-19 cases (15%) and 2,431 deaths (0.3%) between January and August. Among 1,186,017 fully vaccinated individuals, there were 6,323 COVID-19 cases (0.53%) and 28 deaths (0.002%). 

Between February and August, 88.1% (46,612) of COVID-19 cases have been among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals, while 11.9% (6,294) have been among the fully vaccinated. For deaths, 97.3% (949) have been among the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated compared to 2.7% (26) among fully vaccinated residents.

In August, 17.7% of COVID-19 cases were among fully vaccinated individuals, an increase from July (16.2%), June (9.5%), May (5.2%), April (2.8%), March (1.8%) and February (0.3%). The Riverside County Public Health report states that as the fully vaccinated rate increases, “it is expected that the percent of post-vaccination cases will increase.”

Unvaccinated individuals have accounted for more than 88% of COVID-19 diagnosed hospitalizations for the months of July and August, while fully and partially vaccinated individuals made up 10% or less.

The report states adults ages 30 to 64 accounted for 60.4% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in July and August. Hospitalizations among fully vaccinated individuals increased with age (6% among individuals ages 50 to 64; 13.7% among individuals ages 65 to 79; and 17.7% among individuals ages 80 and older), which health officials noted highlights a need for a booster dose.

Children’s case numbers continued to increase as well. Since June, 96.5% of COVID-19 cases among children ages 12 to 17 have been among the unvaccinated in the county — 3,931 COVID-19 cases in unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds and 141 in vaccinated children. There have also been 1,598 cases in the 0 to 5 age group, and 3,011 cases in the 6 to 11 age group between June and August.

Pfizer and BioNTech, which have produced the only vaccine currently available for individuals ages 12 and older, asked federal regulators earlier this week to authorize emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

Until authorization is approved, Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung — during a vaccine update this week — encouraged people 6 months and older to get a flu shot, as well as eligible individuals 12 years and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine, to protect children who cannot get vaccinated.

Leung said health officials are “hoping that the flu season this winter will not be any worse than the flu seasons we’ve seen before the pandemic” if people continue to use precautions, such as masks indoors and getting vaccinated for the flu.

COVID-19 update

After weeks of steady decreases, new COVID-19 cases rose significantly week-over-week in the Coachella Valley, according to the latest numbers released this week.

The valley’s nine cities added 351 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Monday. That’s up nearly 93% compared to the previous week, when there were 182 cases in the week ending Sept. 27.

There was a 59% decrease in cases in the week ending Sept. 27. Cases were also down 20% the week ending Sept. 20.

Deaths week-over-week decreased, however. There were three reported deaths for the week ending Monday, compared to the previous week’s total of 12.

Here is the full breakdown of confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries by city for the week ending Monday:

  • Cathedral City: 8,181 confirmed cases (+45), 124 deaths (+1), 7,985 recoveries (+54)
  • Coachella: 8,496 confirmed cases (+36), 105 deaths (+0), 8,355 recoveries (+50)
  • Desert Hot Springs: 4,948 confirmed cases (+47), 79 deaths (+0), 4,811 recoveries (+43)
  • Indian Wells: 230 confirmed cases (+1), 7 deaths (+0), 223 recoveries (+1)
  • Indio: 14,044 confirmed cases (+101), 236 deaths (+2), 13,675 recoveries (+123)
  • La Quinta: 4,222 confirmed cases (+35), 65 deaths (+0), 4,112 recoveries (+47)
  • Palm Desert: 4,817 confirmed cases (+40), 128 deaths (+0), 4,642 recoveries (+52)
  • Palm Springs: 4,602 confirmed cases (+35), 135 deaths (+0), 4,431 recoveries (+40)
  • Rancho Mirage: 1,345 confirmed cases (+11), 51 deaths (+0), 1,281 recoveries (+12)

There were also 65 new COVID-19 cases and one death (in Desert Edge) reported in the past week in unincorporated communities.

Overall, Riverside County added 2,682 new COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths between Monday and Friday, according to county data. Hospitalizations continued on a downward trend.

Cases were down 25% in the week ending Friday compared to the week ending Oct. 1. October has had more than 2,600 new COVID-19 cases reported so far, down compared to August (more than 5,600 cases) and September (more than 4,600 cases) during the same time period. 

The county’s case and positivity rates have steadily decreased this week. On Friday, the case rate was 16.8 per 100,000, and the positivity rate was 5.8%. One month ago, those numbers were 27.8 per 100,000 and 8%.

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 School has four confirmed active student cases, the most of any school in the district as of Friday.

The Desert Sands Unified School District reported 51 students and eight staff members across 36 schools have tested positive for COVID-19. La Quinta Middle School had reported eight active cases among students as of Friday.

The Coachella Valley Unified School District on Monday reported a total of 10 active COVID-19 cases among students on Friday. At Westside Elementary School, there were three cases among students, according to the district.

There were 305 hospitalizations in Riverside County on Friday, a low that hasn’t been seen since the beginning of August. At the start of the week, there were 315 patients hospitalized. There were also 85 individuals in intensive care on Friday.

A total of 59 deaths were reported between Monday and Friday, bringing the total to 5,063 since the beginning of the pandemic. Deaths were up 11% in the week ending Friday compared to the week ending Oct. 1.

In Riverside County, 58.8% of residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, while another 7.2% are partially vaccinated. The county reports 55,396 third/booster doses have been administered.

Booster shot update

Some residents are opting for a third dose now that Pfizer boosters have been approved for certain populations. 

About 4.3% of those who are fully vaccinated have also received a third dose — or booster shot — of the Pfizer vaccine. Public health clinics and community partners started administering boosters to eligible residents late last month. Since that time, the percentage of residents who’ve received at least one dose has remained stagnant at about 7%. 

Those currently eligible for a booster shot include those who already received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and who are age 65 or older, living in a long-term care facility, or are between the ages of 18 and 64 and either have underlying medical conditions or work in an industry that puts them at high risk. That means healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, day care staff, grocery workers and those working in homeless shelters or prisons. 

Lynn Hammond, 67, of Palm Springs is among those who have received their boosters. She was able to get the shot Sept. 14 — exactly six months after receiving her second Pfizer dose. Each one, she said, brought her some relief. 

“I was adamant that I wanted it (the vaccine),” Hammond said. “I felt and still feel that it’s the only chance we have to get out of this.”

She’s encouraged her 90-year-old father as well as her friends to get their vaccines too, and it has paid off. No one in her inner circle has had COVID-19. 

Hammond, a caterer, was financially impacted by restrictions but has since started doing events again. By being vaccinated, she said, she feels she is being responsible. 

“It hasn’t been a pleasant experience,” she said. “Wearing a mask sucks — it does — but, so far, I’ve been safe.”

Demographics on the 52,464 people in Riverside County who have received boosters weren’t available this week, but public health officials expect to be able to release that information next week, according to Jose Arballo Jr., public information officer with Riverside University Health System-Public Health. 

To make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine or Pfizer booster, visit the state’s My Turn system or call (951) 358-5000 or contact your pharmacy. A list of upcoming vaccine clinics in the Coachella Valley is available at

Ema Sasic covers health in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at or on Twitter @ema_sasic.

Maria Sestito covers issues of aging in the Coachella Valley. She is also a Report for America corps member. Follow her on Twitter @RiaSestito, on Instagram @RiaSestito_Reporter or email her at