RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CNS) — COVID-19-positive hospitalizations in Riverside County fell below 100 Monday, representing a one-year low as the county awaits confirmation that it will be moved into an even less restrictive tier under the governor's public health regulatory apparatus.
According to the Riverside University Health System, 97 people diagnosed with coronavirus were being treated in hospitals countywide as of Monday, down from 104 on Friday. That number includes 23 patients in intensive care units, two less than at the end of last week.
The drop below 100 puts the COVID hospital count where it was in April 2020, when hospitalization figures were first reported by RUHS. Not even during the downtrend in hospitalizations countywide in late September and early October did numbers fall to 100 or less.
With trends and metrics continuing to move toward recovery, officials are anticipating that, as early as Tuesday, the county could be designated in the orange tier under the governor's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy" framework. It has been in the red tier since March 16. In the five months prior to that, it was in the most restrictive purple tier.
The lowering of the regulatory bar three weeks ago raised the capacity limit to 25% for most businesses. The orange designation would increase 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 California Department of Public Health.
The aggregate number of COVID cases recorded since the public health documentation period began in March 2020 is 295,426, up 690 from Friday. No data was released over the weekend.
Officials reported 27 additional COVID-19 fatalities on Monday, bringing to 4,389 the number of deaths from virus-related complications recorded in the last year. The fatalities are trailing indicators because of delays processing death certificates.
The number of known active virus cases countywide was 2,795 as of Monday, up 257. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 295,426—- according to the county Executive Office.
Last week, the CDPH lowered vaccination eligibility to anyone 50 and up. Beginning Tuesday, residents as young as 16 years old will be eligible for immunization at one of four county health clinics.
Only the Pfizer vaccine is available to 16-year-olds, who must have a parent or guardian provide consent for a shot.
The eligibility threshold to include everyone as young as 16 was supposed to occur statewide on April 15. Executive Office spokeswoman Brooke Federico told City News Service that because the county is now well stocked on vaccines and fewer people are making appointments at clinics, the decision was made to move forward with adjusting the eligibility criteria now.
Before dropping to 50 years old last week, the Phase 1 parameters had limited shots to those over 65, as well as individuals in defined work classifications, such as first responders, teachers, and agricultural workers. People with certain underlying health conditions or disabilities were also eligible.
The 2.3% coronavirus positivity rate in testing represents a six-month low and is down from 2.7% two weeks ago. 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 just over a week ago.
The portal to make an appointment for vaccination at county-run and other sites can be accessed via www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county's 211 help line.