COVID-positive hospitalizations in Riverside County have declined significantly as the county prepares for its move into a less restrictive tier of California’s reopening system.
Hospitalizations have dropped below 200, reaching a four-month low ahead of the county's anticipated move Tuesday into the state’s red tier. According to the Riverside University Health System, patients diagnosed with coronavirus numbered 195 as of Monday, compared to 234 on Friday.
The decline marks the first time since the first week of November that the hospitalization count has fallen under 200. RUHS figures showed 45 COVID-positive intensive care unit patients, 11 less than the end of last week.
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The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 292,293, up 427 from Friday.
The county also reported 13 additional deaths from coronavirus-related complications, bringing the number of fatalities to 3,984. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates.
The number of known active virus cases countywide was 4,142 as of Monday, down 867 from Friday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total -- 292,293 -- according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are now at 284,167.
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The county Tuesday officially moved into the red tier and out of the most restrictive purple tier of the governor's “Blueprint for a Safer Economy'' framework. Under the new designation, indoor operations will be permitted to resume at gyms, zoos, museums, movie theaters, places of worship and other facilities, with capacity restrictions.
The revised qualifier for red tier status is an average daily infection rate of 10 per 100,000 residents. In January, seven per 100,000 was the threshold.
The county's state-adjusted infection rate dropped to 8.3 per 100,000 residents last week, compared to 11.3 per 100,000 in the first week of March. The downward shift in infection data prompted a lifting of some restrictions on youth and adult sports, as well as resumption of in-person learning in school districts with county and California Department of Public Health waivers.
The county had been in the red tier between mid-September and mid-October, but was returned to purple tier limitations by the CDPH based on rising infection rates and below-average testing. Under the current designation, bars, theaters, museums, indoor recreational facilities and wineries are supposed to remain closed.
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The county's coronavirus positivity rate settled at 4.1% last week, the lowest since early October. The rate was 5.8% during the first week of the month.
Officials said vaccination of seniors continues to be a priority, but others who qualify under the CDPH Phase 1 guidelines include hospital workers, first responders, food service workers, teachers and some agricultural workers.
Beginning this week, some residents 18 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, as well as most people with disabilities, are eligible for vaccinations, according to the CDPH.
Click here to access the portal to make an appointment for vaccination. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county's 211 help line.