COVID-positive hospitalizations in Riverside County declined further Friday, and the overall case count barely budged, but an additional 20 virus-related deaths were confirmed.
According to the Riverside University Health System, patients in hospitals countywide diagnosed with coronavirus currently number 175, compared to 187 on Thursday. That number includes 37 COVID-positive intensive care unit patients, unchanged from a day ago.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 292,967, up 150 from Thursday. The count has risen less than 700 for the entire week, according to RUHS figures.
A total of 4,117 deaths from coronavirus-related complications have been recorded in the last 12 months. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 3,632, down 106 from Thursday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 292,967 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are now at 285,218.
The regulatory bar was lowered Tuesday when the county was moved into the red tier of the governor’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework. The county had been in the most restrictive purple tier since October.
Under the red tier classification, indoor operations are permitted in restaurants and movie theaters, limited to 25% capacity, or 100 people, whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums also have a greenlight for up to 25% capacity, while gyms and fitness centers have a 10% capacity cap.
Retail stores and shopping malls are able to operate at 50% capacity, under the California Department of public Health guidelines.
Public schools are also eligible to open for in-person instruction, provided they have established safety protocols in place. Many school districts have opted for hybrid models, with part in-class instruction and part remote learning.
The revised qualifier for red tier status is an average daily infection rate of 10 per 100,000 residents. In January, seven per 100,000 was the threshold. The county is at 6.1 per 100,000.
It had been in the red tier between mid-September and mid-October, but was downgraded by the CDPH based on rising infection rates and below-average testing.
The county’s coronavirus positivity rate is 3.3%, down from 4.1% last week — the lowest since early October.
RUHS officials said if current metrics and trends hold, the county may be eligible to move into the orange tier before the end of April.
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 Monday, residents 18 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, as well as most people with disabilities, became eligible for vaccinations.
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.