The coronavirus positivity rate in Riverside County dropped below 2% Tuesday, and the number of intensive care unit patients in the county with the virus fell further.
According to the Riverside University Health System, the newly confirmed positivity rate is 1.6%, down from 1.9% last week, while the state- adjusted case rate is 2.7 per 100,000, based on a rolling seven-day average, compared to 3.4 per 100,000 last week.
“The statewide average is 3.7,” county Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the Board of Supervisors.
According to RUHS data, 74 people countywide are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, compared to 70 on Monday. Of that total, only 16 are in ICU, compared to 19 a day ago.
Officials said the aggregate number of COVID cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 299,376, up 203 from Monday.
The county reported another two fatalities from coronavirus complications, bringing the death toll to 4,590.
The number of known active virus cases countywide is 1,497, up 184 from Monday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 299,376 — according to the county Executive Office. Verified patient recoveries countywide are at 293,289.
Despite the improving metrics, the county last week did not meet the threshold required under the governor’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” framework to move into the yellow tier. The county’s positivity rate now meets that criteria, but the ongoing case rate is required to be 2 per 100,000 or less.
The issue may be moot if restrictions are universally lifted statewide, as planned by the governor barring unforeseen circumstances, on June 15.
The yellow tier designation raises capacity limits for most businesses.
The county entered the orange tier nearly four weeks ago, removing some operational barriers for private and public entities. The county had been in the red tier since March 16, after five months in the most restrictive purple tier.
According to the California Department of Public Health, orange criteria permit retail businesses to fully open, while 50% attendance caps are supposed to be observed in restaurants, museums, movie theaters and zoos. The guidelines call for gyms, wineries and bars to maintain 25% caps.
According to Saruwatari, 62% of county residents 65 years and older — those considered most vulnerable to virus-related hospitalization or death – – have been fully vaccinated.
The portal to make an appointment for a vaccine 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.