Riverside County coronavirus hospitalizations now less than half of winter peak

Taylor Martinez & City News Service

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Riverside County dropped over the weekend to less than half the peak reached a month ago amid a winter surge in virus infections, but another 57 virus-related deaths were reported Monday.

According to the Riverside University Health System, coronavirus hospitalizations countywide declined to 768, compared to 847 on Friday. That includes 209 patients in intensive care units, a drop of 11. No data was released over the weekend.

Virus-related hospitalizations peaked near 1,700 on Jan. 10, according to RUHS.

The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the pandemic began in early March 2020 reached 282,736, up 2,506 from Friday, officials said.

RUHS said a total of 3,377 deaths stemming from virus-related complications have been recorded, compared to 3,320 reported Friday. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates and cover three- to four-week periods.

The number of known active virus cases countywide was 42,160 as of Monday, down 6,104 compared to the end of last week. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and verified recoveries from the current total — 282,736– according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide rose roughly 3% from last week and are now at 237,199.

Health officials will deliver a comprehensive report on the county’s ongoing virus mitigation measures during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday.

Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton told the board last week that the county’s ICU space remains at 0% capacity, along with the 11-county Southern California region. The figures did not change over the weekend.

According to RUHS, the county has received 224,000 Pfizer and Moderna SARS-Cov-2 vaccine doses, and roughly 87% of that stock has been administered.

RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung told the board there are ongoing supply challenges, but the county is focused on offering immunizations “to the most vulnerable,” by which he meant those over 85 years old.

The reservation portal to make an appointment for vaccination can be accessed via http://www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.

Although the county is making vaccination of seniors a priority, others who qualify under the California Department of Public Health’s Phase 1 guidelines include hospital workers, first responders, teachers and anyone over 65.

The county remains in the most restrictive “purple” tier of the governor’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework.

The overall countywide COVID-19 testing positivity rate is 16.6%, down from 20% two weeks ago, based on state-adjusted figures.

The purple tier impacts bars, theaters, museums, indoor recreational facilities and wineries — all of which are supposed to remain closed. However wineries, like restaurants, can provide outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.

Most retail outlets are limited to 25% capacity, while hair salons, nail salons and barbershops can operate with safeguards in place.

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