COVID-positive hospitalizations in Riverside County have dipped again, and the number of documented infections countywide barely budged, but positivity rates have increased slightly.

According to numbers released Wednesday by the Riverside University Health System, 80 people are hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms, two fewer than Tuesday, and that includes 14 intensive care unit patients diagnosed with the virus, unchanged from a day ago.

Officials said the aggregate number of COVID cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 297,631, up 11 from Tuesday.

A total 4,547 deaths from virus-related complications have been recorded in the last 13 months. The same figure was reported by RUHS Tuesday.

The number of known active virus cases countywide is 1,877, down 174 from Tuesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 297,631 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 291,207.

The county’s coronavirus positivity rate is at 2.3%, compared to 2% last week, and the state-adjusted case rate is 4.5 per 100,000 people, which reflects a rolling seven-day average. Last week, it was 3.6 per 100,000.

Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari acknowledged during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting that the “numbers have ticked up just slightly,” but she said the rise was “to be expected because of re-openings” and related increased activity as the public health regulatory bar is lowered.

More county businesses opened two weeks ago amid lighter restrictions due to the county entering the orange tier. The county had been in the red tier of the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” framework since March 16, after five months in the most restrictive purple tier.

According to the California Department of Public Health, orange criteria permit retail businesses to fully open, while 50% attendance caps are supposed to be observed in restaurants, museums, movie theaters and zoos. The guidelines call for gyms, wineries and bars to maintain 25% caps.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced earlier this month that the target date for an end to all restrictions on businesses, gatherings and recreation throughout the state is June 15 — provided there are no signs of a backward slide.

The county’s metrics are squarely in the orange qualifier, but still just outside the parameters for yellow tier status, which represents “minimal” presence of the virus.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung told the board that the Johnson & Johnson SARS-Cov-2 vaccine remains shelved after cases of individuals developing potentially deadly blood clots. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce the outcome of additional research later this week, he said.

Leung said the Moderna and Pfizer shots remain widely available.

The portal to make an appointment for vaccination at county-run and other sites can be accessed via www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.

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