Riverside County Monday reported a nearly 12% drop in coronavirus hospitalizations over the weekend, though 25 additional virus- related deaths were confirmed.
The number of coronavirus patients being treated in county hospitals stood at 120 as of Monday, down 16 from Friday, according to the Riverside University Health System. That figure includes 31 ICU patients, two fewer than last week.
County health officials do not release updated figures on weekends.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March 2020 is now 294,063, up 232 from Friday. There were also 4,273 deaths reported in that time, according to RUHS data.
Known active virus cases countywide numbered 2,841, down 362 from Friday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 294,063 — according to the county Executive Office. There have been 286,949 documented verified recoveries since the pandemic began.
Beginning Thursday, vaccination eligibility will be expanded to include everyone 50 years and older, stemming from an anticipated increase in SAR-Cov-2 immunization doses. After April 15, residents statewide who are 16 years and over will be eligible to make appointments.
In Riverside County, vaccination of seniors continues to be a priority, but others who qualify under the current CDPH guidelines include utility workers, public transit workers, disaster preparedness workers, first responders, food service workers, teachers and some agricultural workers. Those with pre-existing disorders or who are permanently disabled may also obtain shots from their health care providers.
The portal to make an appointment for vaccination at county-run and other sites can be accessed via http://www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county’s 211 help line.
The county’s coronavirus positivity rate was is 2.7% Friday, down from 3.3%, the previous week, a six-month low. Back in January, the positivity rate was upwards of 25%.
The regulatory bar was lowered on March 16, when the county was moved into the red tier of the state’s reopening framework. The county had been in the most restrictive purple tier since mid-October.
Under the red tier classification, indoor operations are permitted in restaurants and movie theaters, limited to 25% capacity, or 100 people, whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums also have a greenlight for up to 25% capacity, while gyms and fitness centers have a 10% capacity cap.
Retail stores and shopping malls are able to operate at 50% capacity, under California Department of Public Health guidelines.
Public schools are also eligible to open for in-person instruction, provided they have established safety protocols in place. Many school districts have opted for hybrid models, with part in-class instruction and part remote learning.
The revised qualifier for red tier status was an average daily infection rate of 10 per 100,000 residents. The county is at a state-adjusted level of 4.8 per 100,000, compared to 6.1 per 100,000 a week ago. Health officials said if current metrics and trends hold, the county may be eligible to move into the orange tier before the end of April.