The COVID-19 positivity rate dropped below 10% in Riverside County — the lowest in almost three months — and coronavirus hospitalizations continued to fall, while an additional 31 virus-related deaths were reported Tuesday.
According to the Riverside University Health System, the state-adjusted positivity rate, which is based on test results over rolling seven-day periods, is down to 7.6%, compared to 11% last week.
The last time that metric hovered below 10% was in the first week of December, according to figures.
Coronavirus-positive hospitalizations are at 407, compared to 441 on Monday, and that includes 112 intensive care unit patients, 20 fewer than Monday, RUHS said.
ICU bed availability countywide increased to 12%, though the majority of admissions are not from COVID-19, according to Riverside County Public Information Officer Brooke Federico.
The total number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March is 288,541, up 719 from Monday.
Officials said there have been 3,695 deaths from virus-related complications in the last 11 months, compared to 3,664 reported Monday. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates and cover three- to four-week cycles.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 18,269, down 254 compared to a day ago. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 288,541 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are now at 266,577.
Officials announced that because case rates have fallen below California Department of Public Health thresholds, school districts countywide are eligible to apply for waivers to restart in-person classes for students in transitional kindergarten to sixth grade.
Districts are required to have safety plans and protocols in place to mitigate virus exposure risks. Four districts have been approved by the county and are expected to receive CDPH approval anytime.
The county additionally announced that it was fast-approaching the state-imposed benchmark for the resumption of moderate- and high-contact sports, including soccer, football and baseball. This include both youth and adult sports.
The announcement follows new guidance released by CDPH last week that allows for additional outdoor sports to resume in counties in the purple or red tier that report case rates at or below 14 cases per 100,000 residents. Riverside was at 16.6 infections per 100,000 residents as of Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the state’s new system of tracking and scheduling vaccines is slated to be rolled out in Riverside and 10 other counties soon. The system will be run by Blue Shield, although details are still being ironed out.
“We are working with Blue Shield to determine which responsibilities will be performed by Blue Shield and by the county,” Federico said on Monday.
Vaccination of senior citizens is a priority, but others who qualify under the CDPH Phase 1 guidelines include hospital workers, first responders, teachers and some agricultural workers. The portal to make an appointment for vaccination can be accessed via www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone needing assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.
The county is still in the most restrictive purple tier of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework, impacting 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.