The number of known active coronavirus cases throughout Riverside County climbed by 341, and the number of deaths connected to the virus increased by 20, according to local health officials, who also reported that the rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 has climbed to nearly 16%.

According to Riverside University Health System RUHS officials, the confirmed active case count widened to 11,699, compared to 11,358 on Monday, while the total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 complications rose to 506, from 486 a day earlier.

The documentation period covers early March to the present. In that time, a total 21,101 infections have been recorded by the county.

The active case count is derived by subtracting deaths and patient recoveries from the current total — 21,101 — according to the Executive Office.

There are currently 518 patients hospitalized in Riverside County medical facilities for COVID-19, which includes 130 patients in intensive care units.

“The positivity rate in coronavirus testing is 15.9%,” county Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “The state threshold is 8%. We are closely monitoring testing.”

Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton told the board that of the county’s 17 hospitals, six are operating at maximum capacity. But they are “not overwhelmed” because all of the medical facilities are able to add spare cushion on short notice, exceeding licensed capacities by 30% if necessary, as happened during the 2017 flu outbreak, he said.

Sub acute bed space countywide is at 68% capacity, while 94% of designated ICU beds are occupied, but less than a third of those are COVID-19 patients, according to Barton.

He said 10 prisoners from state penitentiaries are in hospitals within the county, while four patients from hard-hit Imperial County are in them. Imperial County’s two functioning hospitals have been operating over capacity for the last two months, and an untold number of patients have been transferred to multiple jurisdictions statewide for care.

The number of verified patient recoveries countywide is now 8,896. The county defines a recovery as someone who has not exhibited any COVID-19 symptoms for at least 14 days.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week implemented a ban on indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, family entertainment centers, cardrooms, theaters and museums in what he termed a precautionary move to address the “particularly concerning” spike in infections in 19 counties on the state’s “watch list.” On Monday, the number of counties on the state’s list increased to 23.

The new state mandate barring indoor activities at those venues is slated to last another two weeks at least.

Bars countywide were also ordered closed last week under a new public health order. They had been allowed to reopen on June 12, after having previously been shut down as part of the governor’s stay-at-home order issued March 19.

Riverside County was advancing into Stage 3 of the governor’s four-stage public health de-regulation plan, but with COVID-19 cases spiking, and the renewed restrictions, that process is now on hold.

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