A new statewide mandate kicked in that requires mask-wearing in all indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status and Riverside County announced that COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 11 to 331, while the number of those patients in intensive care was 78, down three from Tuesday, in its latest data.

The Riverside University Health System also said the aggregate number of COVID cases recorded in the county since the pandemic began in March 2020 rose by 602 since Tuesday, reaching 384,685.

A total of 5,523 deaths from virus-related complications have been recorded in the county in the past 20 months. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates and can go back weeks, according to health officials.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was 4,543 on Wednesday, down 507 from Tuesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 384,685 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are 374,619.

Meanwhile, the new mask mandate took effect Wednesday and will run through Jan. 15.

According to the state, roughly half of California’s population already lives in counties that had local mask-wearing mandates in place — but that did not include Riverside County.

Among the indoor public spaces affected are retail stores, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers and government offices that serve the public.

The state will also toughen the restriction for unvaccinated people who attend indoor “mega-events” of 1,000 people or more, requiring them to receive a negative COVID test within one day of the event if it is a rapid antigen test or within two days for a PCR test.

State officials also recommend, but do not require, that people who travel to California or return to the state after traveling be tested for COVID within three to five days.

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