Riverside County administers 1 millionth coronavirus vaccine Wednesday

Riverside County administers 1 millionth coronavirus vaccine Wednesday

Taylor Martinez & City News Service

The County of Riverside administered it’s one-millionth coronavirus vaccine Wednesday morning.

Shirlley Ann Gruenke, a 65-year-old resident of Cherry Valley, represented the millionth dose with cheers and fanfare from the nurses and staff at the Albert A. Chatigny Senior Community Center in Beaumont.

“It was a surprise, but I sure thank you all,” said Gruenke, a retired nurse. “You know, I went back and forth saying I was not going to get the shot, but when I got COVID in December and I felt sick, I said I’m ready for it. I’m getting my shot.”

Riverside County’s overall COVID-19 positivity rate is down to 2.3%, and other metrics are pointing in the right direction for the county’s move into the orange tier, meaning fewer public health restrictions, perhaps as early as next week, officials said.

Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that because the “numbers are looking good,” the California Department of Public Health is poised to change the county’s designation to orange from red under the governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” framework.

The 2.3% coronavirus positivity rate in testing represents a six-month low and is down from 2.7% last week. The daily state-adjusted case rate of 4.1 per 100,000 residents, which reflects a rolling seven-day average, is down from 4.8 per 100,000 a week ago.

Saruwatari told the board that with the downward trends and vaccine supplies now in excess of current demand, the county qualifies for orange tier classification as early as next week.

The county has been in the red tier since March 16, and in the five months prior to that was in the most restrictive purple tier. The lowering of the regulatory bar meant many businesses could resume operations at 25% capacity. The orange designation raises the cap to 50% for many entities, though some, such as gyms and amusement parks, would be required to remain at 25%, according to the CDPH.

More information is available at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.

According to the Riverside University Health System, the aggregate number of COVID-19 cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 294,192, up 129 from Monday.

COVID-positive patients in hospitals countywide currently number 122, two more than Monday, and that includes 30 intensive care unit patients, a drop of one in the last day.

RUHS officials said a total 4,297 deaths from virus-related complications have been recorded in the last 12 months. On Monday, the number was 4,273. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates.

The number of known active virus cases countywide is 2,775, down 66. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 294,192 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 287,120.

Beginning Thursday, vaccination eligibility will expand to all residents 50 and over, per the CDPH guidelines. The agency said that starting April 15, residents 16 and up can get a shot.

In Riverside County, vaccination of seniors continues to be a priority, and almost two-thirds of those 65 and over have received at least the first immunization dose. Others who qualify under the 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.

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