Riverside County Wednesday reported just three new coronavirus cases and a drop in hospitalizations.
According to the Riverside University Health System, 73 people countywide were hospitalized with COVID as of Wednesday, five fewer than the day before. That includes 19 intensive care unit patients diagnosed with the virus, two fewer than a day ago.
The number of known active virus cases countywide was 1,844, down 104 from Tuesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 298,262 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 291,854.
The RUHS logged one additional virus-related fatality, bringing the coronavirus death toll in the region to 4,564.
Local health officials told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that COVID-19 positivity and case rates have both dropped, signaling moves toward wider virus mitigation.
“Our numbers have come down. For four consecutive days, they’ve been coming down,” Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said during the supervisors’ weekly board meeting. “They’re changing incrementally.”
The coronavirus positivity rate is now 2.1%, compared to 2.3% last week. The state-adjusted case rate is 3.9 per 100,000, based on a rolling seven-day average. Last week, it was 4.5 per 100,000.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re very encouraged,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung told the board. “We’re in a better place than a month ago.”
He reiterated the announcement Monday that the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was available again in the county, based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
Administration of the vaccine was paused nationwide earlier this month to allow the agencies to investigate an extremely rare blood-clotting disorder found in six women between the ages of 18 and 49 who had gotten the shot. They concluded Friday that the benefits of the single-dose vaccine outweigh its risks.
“There are common side effects people don’t need to worry about in the first one or two days after receiving the vaccine — headaches, fever. flu-like symptoms,” Leung said. “However, after one to two weeks, if you have severe chest pain, leg swelling, trouble breathing — those could be signs of blood clots, and you should contact your doctor.”
Since December, the county has administered more than 1.6 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and J&J vaccines, according to county data.
More county businesses opened just over 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 CDPH, 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.
The portal to make an appointment for a vaccine 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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