The number of coronavirus patients under intensive care in Riverside County is now fewer than a dozen, though five additional virus-related deaths were reported Tuesday.

According to the Riverside University Health System, 54 people countywide are hospitalized with COVID-19, unchanged from Monday, and 11 of those patients are in ICUs, down three from a day ago.

The ICU count is the lowest since RUHS began publishing COVID-19 hospital data in April 2020.

The agency said a total of 4,598 deaths from virus-related complications have been recorded in the last 13 months, up from 4,593 on Monday.

The coronavirus positivity rate remains 1.6%, unchanged in the last two weeks, while the state-adjusted case rate is 2.8 per 100,000 people, based on a rolling seven-day average, compared to 2.7 per 100,000 two weeks ago.

Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Board of Supervisors the statewide average is 3.1 per 100,000.

Board Chair Karen Spiegel asked Public Health Officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung about the prevailing sentiment among county officials regarding the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidelines on face coverings. The CDC acknowledged that masks aren’t necessary, under most circumstances, for people who have been fully vaccinated.

However, the California Department of Public Health announced Monday that no changes in statewide masking recommendations would be made until June 15, despite the revised CDC guidance.

“We would like to align with the CDC,” Leung said.

Spiegel replied that the county doesn’t intend to openly oppose the CDPH, even though “it’s a little frustrating for all of us.”

The RUHS said the aggregate number of COVID cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 300,039, up 186 from Monday.

The number of known active virus cases countywide is 1,423, up 177 from Monday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 300,039 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 294,018.

Despite improving metrics, the county has not met the threshold required under the governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” framework to move into the least restrictive yellow tier of the state’s economic reopening system. The county’s positivity rate now meets that criteria, but the ongoing case rate is required to be 2 per 100,000 or less.

The issue may be moot if restrictions are universally lifted statewide, as planned by Gov. Gavin Newsom barring unforeseen circumstances, on June 15.

The yellow tier designation would raise attendance limits for most businesses.

The county entered the orange tier five weeks ago, removing some operational barriers for private and public entities. The county had been in the red tier since March 16, after five months in the most restrictive purple tier.

Saruwatari said 70% of county residents 65 years and older — those considered most vulnerable to virus-related hospitalization or death — have been partially or fully vaccinated.

The portal to make an appointment for a vaccine at county-run and other sites can be accessed via Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.

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