COVID-positive hospitalizations in Riverside County closed the week lower than where they began, and the overall number of documented infections increased fractionally, according to the latest data.

The Riverside University Health System said Friday 79 people were hospitalized with coronavirus, one less than Thursday and six below the figure reported Monday. Current hospitalizations include 22 intensive care unit patients diagnosed with the virus, three more than a day ago.

Hospitalizations have ranged between 80 and 100 for the past two weeks.

The agency does not release updated COVID-19 statistics on the weekend.

RUHS said the aggregate number of COVID cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 was 297,881 on Friday, up 111 from Thursday. At the start of last week, the number was 297,319.

A total 4,559 deaths from virus-related complications have been recorded in the past 13 months, according to RUHS.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was 1,840 Friday, down 61 from Thursday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 297,881 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 291,482.

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. During the previous 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.

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. He 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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