Riverside County health officials reported 2,025 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, along with an 18% increase in coronavirus hospitalizations.

The new cases increased the number of COVID-19 infections recorded in the county since the pandemic began in March 2020 to 311,242, according to the Riverside University Health System. No new deaths were reported Tuesday, leaving the number at 4,667.

The number of hospital patients infected with COVID-19 countywide increased by 52 on Tuesday to a total of 340, according to the RUHS. That figure includes one additional ICU patient, for a total of 74.

Verified patient recoveries countywide were 300,500, up 113 from Monday.

The number of people being treated in hospitals for COVID-19 is the highest it has been since February, although it is well below the level seen during the winter surge, when more than 1,600 people where hospitalized with the virus.

The recent increase in new COVID-19 cases mirrors a nationwide surge, with federal health officials blaming the highly infectious Delta strain of the virus first detected in India.

When asked about a possible culprit for the sudden increase in cases in Riverside County, Public Health Officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung theorized last week that the jump could be linked to the relaxation of state lockdown measures in June.

Officials say the Delta variant is highly contagious, spreading more easily from person to person. State health officials reiterated Monday that the variant is preying on the unvaccinated population, which has an infection rate nearly seven times higher than that of vaccinated residents.

According to RUHS, 57.9% of county residents 12 and older have received at least one coronavirus vaccine shot, and 50% have been fully vaccinated.

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