The number of COVID-positive patients hospitalized in Riverside County has dropped below 70, and two additional virus-related deaths were reported.

According to the Riverside University Health System, 63 people countywide were hospitalized with coronavirus as of Friday, seven less than Thursday, and that includes 17 intensive care unit patients, one more than a day earlier.

RUHS said the aggregate number of COVID cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 was 299,064 Friday, up 125 from Thursday.

A total 4,587 deaths from virus-related complications have been recorded in the past 13 months. Thursday’s number was 4,585.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was 1,457, down 57 from Thursday. The active count was derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 299,064 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 293,020.

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

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

The yellow tier designation restricts capacity limits for most businesses.

The county entered the orange tier 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 www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.

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