Nine additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Thursday, along with 67 new cases and a slight decline in overall COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The aggregate number of coronavirus cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 now stands at 298,939, according to the Riverside University Health System, which reported 4,585 total deaths in that time.

There are now 70 people countywide hospitalized with coronavirus, two fewer than Wednesday, and that includes 16 intensive care unit patients, a drop of seven from a day ago.

The number of known active virus cases countywide is 1,514, down 218 from Wednesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 298,939 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 292,840.

The coronavirus test positivity rate is 1.9%, compared to 2.1% last week. The state-adjusted case rate is 3.4 per 100,000 residents, based on a rolling seven-day average. Last week, it was 3.9 per 100,000 people.

Despite the improving metrics, the county on Tuesday did not meet the criteria required under the governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” framework to move into the yellow tier, which requires a positivity rate of less than 2% and an ongoing case rate of 2 per 100,000 or less.

The yellow tier is the least restrictive of the state’s four-tier system, and raises attendance limits for most businesses.

The county entered the orange tier just over three weeks ago, removing some operational barriers for private and public entities. The county had been in the red tier 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.

Since December, the county has administered more than 1.6 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, according to RUHS. The latter one-dose immunization therapy had been briefly suspended under a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory pertaining to negative reactions among a few patients. But the J&J product became available again over a week ago.

The portal to make an appointment for a vaccine at county-run and other sites can be accessed via Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.

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