The coronavirus positivity rate in Riverside County dropped below 5%, but hospitalizations reversed course slightly, with an uptick in COVID-19 admissions Tuesday.
According to the Riverside University Health System, the countywide positivity rate, based on rolling seven-day testing cycles, is now 4.1%, the lowest it has been since early October. The rate was 5.8% last week.
RUHS data showed COVID-positive hospitalizations now number 264, up from 251 on Monday, and that includes 59 intensive care unit patients — five fewer than a day ago.
Countywide ICU bed availability is roughly 20%, back to where it was at the end of November and before the governor’s stay-at-home order impacting the entire Southern California region. The threshold established for triggering the order was 15% or less overall ICU availability.
Supervisor Jeff Hewitt expressed optimism during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that the county was “ready anytime” to be returned to the red tier under the governor’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework. The county remains in the most restrictive purple tier.
Under that designation, bars, theaters, museums, indoor recreational facilities and wineries are supposed to remain closed. However wineries, like restaurants, can provide outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 291,492, up 452 from Monday.
Officials said there have been 3,940 deaths from virus-related complications in the last 12 months, an increase of 28 in the last day. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 6,050, down 155 from Monday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 291,492 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are now at 281,502.
The state-adjusted infection rate of 8.3 per 100,000 residents compares to 11.3 per 100,000 last week. Last Tuesday’s downward shift in infection data prompted a removal of prohibitions on youth and adult sports, including baseball, football, soccer and water polo. The threshold is 14 per 100,000 residents.
Weekly testing for players and coaches is one of the provisions established by the California Department of Public Health for participation in contact sports. More information is available at www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus.
On March 1, the Corona-Norco Unified School District resumed in-person classes for students in transitional kindergarten to sixth grade under a waiver authorized by the county and state, based on moderating infection rates. Additional school districts are expected to follow this month.
Officials said vaccination of seniors continues to be a priority, but others who qualify under the CDPH Phase 1 guidelines include hospital workers, first responders, food service workers, teachers and some agricultural workers.
RUHS’ Dr. Geoffrey Leung told the board that, beginning March 15, residents 18 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, as well as most people with disabilities, will be eligible for vaccinations. Leung said conditions might include “type-2 diabetes and lung disease.”
“The CDPH is continuing to work on the guidelines,” he said.
The portal to make an appointment for vaccination can be accessed via www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.