Riverside County Tuesday moved back to the less-restrictive tier of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan, paving the way for a resumption of indoor dining and other loosened restrictions.
The revised qualifier for red tier status is an average daily infection rate of 10 per 100,000 population — Riverside County logged 6.1 per 100,000 residents, down from 8.3 per 100,000 last week, according to data released Tuesday by the California Department of Public Health.
Beginning Wednesday, indoor operations will be permitted to resume at gyms, zoos, museums, movie theaters, places of worship and other facilities, with capacity restrictions.
“Today’s news about moving into the red tier is a positive and hopeful sign of more great things to come. If we continue to work together, we can keep this momentum going. We can reopen safely and continue to see our numbers fall, if we all do our part to keep coronavirus at bay,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Karen Spiegel said.
The county had previously been in the red tier of the governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” framework between mid-September and mid-October, but was returned to purple tier limitations by the CDPH based on rising infection rates and below-average testing.
Under the red tier classification, restaurants and movie theaters may return to indoor operations up to 25% of capacity, or 100 people, whatever is fewer. Museums, zoos and aquariums may return indoors up to 25% capacity. Gyms and fitness centers may return indoors up to 10% capacity. In addition, retail stores and shopping malls may increase capacity to 50%.
Public middle and high schools will also be permitted to resume in-person instruction, given they have approved safety plans to do so.
The Riverside University Health System on Tuesday reported 110 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the aggregate number of cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 to 292,403.
The county also reported 27 additional deaths from coronavirus-related complications, bringing the number of fatalities to 4,011. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates.
Patients diagnosed with coronavirus at county hospitals numbered 188 on Tuesday, down seven from the day before. RUHS figures showed 42 COVID-positive intensive care unit patients, three fewer than Monday.
The number of known active virus cases countywide was 4,102 , down 40 from Monday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 292,403 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are now at 284,290.
The county’s coronavirus positivity rate dipped to 3.3%, down from 4.1% last week and the lowest since early October. The rate was 5.8% during the first week of the 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.
Beginning Tuesday, some residents 18 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, as well as most people with disabilities, are eligible for vaccinations, according to the CDPH.
“Individuals with conditions are strongly encouraged to seek vaccination with a primary health care provider or system, or in an alternate clinical setting,” the agency stated. “Check first with your usual health care provider.”
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.