Riverside County has reported 139 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, eight additional virus-related deaths and a slight uptick in hospitalizations.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 was 297,770, according to numbers released Thursday by the Riverside University Health System, which reported 4,555 deaths attributed to the virus.
There were 80 people hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms, two more than Wednesday, and that included 19 intensive care unit patients diagnosed with the virus, five more than a day ago.
The number of known active virus cases countywide was 1,901, up 24 from Wednesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 297,770 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 291,314.
The county’s coronavirus positivity rate was at 2.3%, compared to 2% last week, and the state-adjusted case rate was 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 reopenings” 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.