COVID-positive hospitalizations in Riverside County have dropped a notch, and the overall number of infections has increased slightly.

According to numbers released Thursday by the Riverside University Health System, 72 people were hospitalized with coronavirus, one fewer than Wednesday, and that includes 18 intensive care unit patients diagnosed with the virus, down one from than a day ago.

RUHS said the aggregate number of COVID cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 was 298,366, up 104 from Wednesday.

A total 4,568 deaths from virus-related complications have been recorded in the last 13 months. On Wednesday, the RUHS reported the cumulative death total as 4,564.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was 1,820, down 24 from Wednesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 298,366 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 291,978.

The coronavirus positivity rate is 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.

“Our numbers have come down. For four consecutive days, they’ve been coming down,” Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. “They’re changing incrementally.”

County Public Health Officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung said “a lot of work” remains ahead, but “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, based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The vaccine’s use was suspended nationwide earlier this month to provide time for further research into a 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.

Since December, the county has administered more than 1.6 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and J&J vaccines, according to RUHS.

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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