Riverside County Tuesday moved into the next tier under the state’s four-tier de-regulation plan to contain the coronavirus, permitting most businesses and all churches to resume indoor activity with limitations.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the county’s shift to the “red tier” from the most restrictive “purple tier” as part of his Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
The county qualified for the move under testing and positivity thresholds established by Newsom and California Department of Public Health.
Under the red tier, shopping malls and swap meets can operate at a maximum 50% capacity, while houses of worship are permitted to have indoor attendance of 25% capacity, or up to 100 people, whichever is less.
The tier structure also drops prohibitions on indoor operations for barbershops, hair salons, fitness centers and restaurants, as long as capacities are limited to preserve social distancing.
Bars and “non-essential” offices are still prohibited from opening, under threat of fines from public health authorities.
The Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon debated replacing the state’s tiered system with an accelerated reopening plan that would have started Tuesday and been completed by Nov. 3, permitting all businesses, houses of worship, offices, wineries and other entities countywide to fully open with health safeguards in place.
However, after several supervisors aired concerns about the need to modify the proposal and verify how much money the state might withhold because the county chose to go its own way, the vote on it was postponed to Oct. 6.
The number of COVID-19 infections recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March is 57,482, up 63 from Monday. The Riverside University Health System said the number of deaths believed to be tied to COVID-19 increased to 1,172, 10 more than a day before.
The number of known active cases countywide is 3,534, a drop of 254 since Monday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 57,482 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 52,776.
As of Monday, 131 patients were hospitalized countywide for treatment of the virus, 12 fewer than Friday. That figure includes 47 people in intensive care units — three more than Friday, according to RUHS.
Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton told the board the county’s virus-related hospitalizations have plummeted over the last two months, with no concern now over capacity to treat the ill for any malady.
The Emergency Operations Center in downtown Riverside was “standing down,” with no reason to remain in alert mode, Barton said.
According to the CDPH, the county has averaged 5.8 cases a day per 100,000 population over the last two weeks, but because COVID-19 testing volumes are below the state median required for a large county, Riverside County has been given an “adjusted rate” of 6.7. That still puts the county below the 7-per-100,000 level needed for tier reassignment.
Additional information about the formula can be found at www.covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.