As efforts to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccination program press on, coronavirus hospitalizations have fallen further in Riverside County — though intensive care units countywide remain packed with COVID-19 and other patients.
“Our numbers are trending in a positive direction,” Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Board of Supervisors. “We hope to see it continue that way.”
The number of COVID-positive hospitalizations countywide is at 954, a one-day decline of 25. The ICU bed count for COVID patients is 254 — 14 less than Monday.
County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton told the board the county’s ICU space remains at 0% capacity, along with the 11-county Southern California region. However, he pointed out that the peak in hospitalizations now appears to have been in the second week of January, with signs pointing to a continuing decline, though it was unclear when the county might recover to pre-surge levels.
According to Saruwatari, to date, the county has received 204,375 Pfizer and Moderna SARS-Cov-2 vaccine doses, and roughly 86% of that stock has already been administered.
RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung told the board there are ongoing supply challenges, but the county is focused on offering immunizations “to the most vulnerable,” by which he meant seniors, mainly those over 85 years old.
“We know call center wait times have been long,” Leung said. “We’re increasing staff and improving out technology platform to make scheduling easier.”
The reservation portal to make an appointment for vaccination can be accessed via www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Those who need assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.
Although the county is making vaccination of seniors a priority, others who qualify under the California Department of Public Health’s Phase 1 guidelines include hospital workers, first responders, teachers and anyone over 65.
The aggregate number of coronavirus cases recorded since the pandemic began in early March 2020 is 276,931, up 1,059 from Monday, according to RUHS.
Officials said a total of 3,251 deaths stemming from virus-related complications have been recorded, up 80 from the 3,171 reported Monday. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates and cover three- to four-week periods.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 55,030 — down 2,794 from Monday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and documented recoveries from the current total — 276,931 — according to the county Executive Office.
Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 218,650, according to RUHS.
The county is still in the most restrictive “purple” tier of the governor’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework.
The overall countywide COVID-19 testing positivity rate is 16.6%, down from 20% last week, based on state-adjusted figures.
The purple tier impacts bars, theaters, museums, indoor recreational facilities and wineries — all of which are supposed to remain closed. However wineries, like restaurants, can provide outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.
Most retail outlets are limited to 25% capacity, while hair salons, nail salons and barbershops can operate with safeguards in place.
Additional information is available at covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.