Riverside County health officials Wednesday reported 347 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and six additional coronavirus-related deaths, as local residents continued bracing for the return of intensified state-ordered restrictions due to an uptick in infections.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 infections recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March is 62,900, compared to 62,553 on Tuesday, according to the Riverside University Health System. There are now 1,264 fatalities tied to COVID-19 countywide, compared to 1,258 on Tuesday
The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus-related symptoms in Riverside County is up to 149, or three more than the day before. That figure includes 45 intensive care unit patients, three more than Tuesday. All COVID-19 hospitalization counts are currently at or below levels reported in April.
The number of known active cases countywide is 4,723, up 387 from the day prior. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total of 62,900, according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 56,913.
Officials announced Tuesday that Riverside County is at risk of being moved back into the purple tier of the state’s coronavirus regulation framework — the most restrictive classification — because of a recent escalation in confirmed cases.
But per the county’s request, the California Department of Public Health will leave the county as-is until a one-week review of the county’s data can be completed.
CDPH Chief Dr. Mark Ghaly said during Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing that the state agency is “working with Riverside County, looking at their data, making sure we understand it well and that we have a good conversation with them to make sure it’s accurate before making any further decisions.”
He said analysis will be conducted throughout the week to see what, if any, adjustments are needed to the current data streams.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s color-coded tier system relies on testing thresholds, case positivity rates and so-called “equity” metrics to determine how a county should be classified. Riverside County moved out of the most restrictive purple tier and into the less restrictive red tier last month.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted for a self-directed plan to deregulate the local economy, but it largely follows state guidelines.
The red tier allows for some indoor businesses to resume operations with limited capacities. More information is available at covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.
According to the CDPH, the county now has a COVID-19 per-day case count of 8.1 per 100,000 people, but that has been adjusted to 9.2 per 100,000 because testing thresholds are below what the state prefers. Generally, a jurisdiction must fall below a daily count of 7 per 100,000 to qualify for the red tier.
On the other hand, the county’s testing positivity rate is 5.9%, which is well within the red tier criteria.
The board’s vote last week on a self-directed plan sought a modified approach to reopening economic sectors, adhering to CDPH health safety guidelines, but giving county CEO George Johnson authority to relax public health regulations impacting businesses and other entities on a schedule that falls outside the state’s mandates, if he chooses.
Johnson expressed a desire to follow state directives because the county stood to lose more than $100 million in relief grants.