Riverside County has moved back to the more restrictive purple tier in the state’s phases of reopening.
The announcement came Tuesday by County Public Health Officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, at the Board of Supervisors meeting.
The purple tier requires many non-essential indoor business operations to close.
Last Tuesday, state officials announced the county is at risk of being moved back into the purple tier, the most restrictive classification, under the state’s public health regulation framework, because testing levels are below the threshold established for large counties and case rates are higher based on adjusted metrics.
At the county’s request, the California Department of Public Health left the county’s status unchanged until a review of data was completed.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s color-coded tier system relies on testing thresholds, case positivity rates and so-called “equity” measures, which focus on specific communities, to determine how a county should be classified. Riverside County moved out of the purple tier and into the red tier last month, allowing for some indoor businesses to resume operations with limited capacities.
The overall number of coronavirus cases in Riverside County climbed over the weekend, increasing by 791, and three additional deaths were announced a day ahead of Tuesday’s report on the county’s status in the state’s tiered grading system.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 infections recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March is 64,075, compared to 63,284 on Friday, according to the Riverside University Health System. The number of deaths tied to COVID-19 stands at 1,272.
RUHS officials reported that 153 people are hospitalized for virus- related treatment, an increase of five since the end of last week. That number includes 43 intensive care unit patients — one less than Friday.
The number of known active cases countywide is 4,845, an increase of 224 since Friday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 64,075 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 57,958.
COUNTY AND HEALTH OFFICIALS ON MOVING BACK INTO PURPLE TIER:
As Riverside County moves back into the purple tier, health officials talk about the importance of making this move and what it means for our Coachella Valley. Health officials say the problem is the case rate, and now the county will have to move back into the purple tier for at least the next three weeks.
Testing has increased in Riverside County the past few weeks, but it’s the county’s case rate that’s forcing us back into the more restrictive purple tier.
“If we were closer to that state average, the formula would be more favorable to us. and that doesn’t mean that the case rate would automatically lower to that, it just means that our possibility of reaching that better number improves by more testing,” said Jose Arballo Jr., Senior Public Information Specialist with Riverside County.
But do these numbers tell the whole story? We spoke to Dr. Euthym Kontaxis, the director of the emergency department at Eisenhower Health, to find out if they’re seeing a resurgence in Covide-19 cases.
“We’ve seen a slight uptick over the last 10 days, but not a significant overwhelming number of patients. our end patient total is around 17 with 2 in the ICU. and we’ve been as low as below 5 at one point,” said Kontaxis.
Besides testing, local doctors along with governor Newsom are highlighting the importance of wearing a mask properly to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“When your nose is exposed, it may be more comfortable, but it’s not necessarily the right way of wearing a mask,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.
“The mask itself has to be a sealed mask if you want maximum kinds of protection, and also to protect others. cloth masks help, but they’re not as effective as surgical masks,” added Kontaxis.
Health officials continue to stress that an increase in testing will help identify the prevalence of the virus in the community.
“By getting more testing done, it helps us on the formula side, but it also helps us find out where it is, where the virus is in the community, and then helps us do the strategies that will help reduce the overall numbers,” said Arballo.
In order for Riverside County to return to the red tier, we would need a case rate showing between 4 and 7 new cases per 100,000 residents for an average of seven days.