The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Riverside County since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 294,736, with 4,362 deaths from virus-related complications.

Coronavirus hospitalizations had dropped three days in a row as of Friday, according to the Riverside University Health System.

The agency does not release updated COVID-19 statistics on weekends.

As of Friday, 104 people had been newly diagnosed with coronavirus and were being treated in hospitals countywide, including 25 intensive care unit patients, while 23 virus-related deaths were reported.

The number of known active virus cases countywide totaled 2,538 as of Friday, down 46 from Thursday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 294,736 — according to the county Executive Office.

The California Department of Public Health lowered vaccination eligibility to anyone 50 and up as of Thursday.

The previous Phase 1 parameters had limited vaccines to those over 65, as well as individuals in defined work classifications, such as first responders, teachers and agricultural workers. People with certain underlying health conditions or disabilities have also been eligible for the past month.

“As eligibility widens and more of our residents become protected, we’ll continue to see declining COVID numbers and an ongoing focus on community recovery,” Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Spiegel said Tuesday.

Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the board this week that because the “numbers are looking good,” the CDPH is poised to change the county’s designation to orange from red under the governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” framework.

The 2.3% coronavirus positivity rate in testing represents a six-month low and is down from 2.7% the previous week. The daily state-adjusted case rate of 4.1 per 100,000 residents, which reflects a rolling seven-day average, is down from 4.8 per 100,000 just over a week ago.

Saruwatari said the county will likely qualify for orange-tier classification as early as this week.

The county has been in the red tier since March 16, and in the five months prior to that was in the most restrictive purple tier. The lowering of the regulatory bar meant many businesses could resume operations at 25% capacity. The orange designation raises the cap to 50% for many entities, though some, such as gyms and amusement parks, would be required to remain at 25%, according to the CDPH.

More information is available at covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.

The portal to make an appointment for vaccination at county-run and other sites can be accessed via www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.

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