Riverside County coronavirus hospitalizations continue uptick

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County health officials Thursday, Oct. 22 reported 330 newly confirmed coronavirus infections and four additional virus-related deaths, as the number of hospitalizations tied to the virus continued to creep upward.
The aggregate number of COVID-19 infections recorded since the public health documentation period began in early March is 65,386, compared to 65,056 on Wednesday, according to the Riverside University Health System. The agency said the number of deaths tied to COVID-19 stands at 1,279.
The number of known active cases countywide is 5,505, up 182 from Wednesday. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 65,386 — according to the County Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 58,602.
There are now 176 people hospitalized for virus-related treatment countywide, an increase of nine from Wednesday, and 19 more than Tuesday’s total. The figure includes 41 intensive care unit patients — four more than the previous day.
County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton said during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have been going “up and down,” and that there had been a slight upward trend in the last two weeks, which he attributed partly to infected state prisoners being hospitalized locally.
“There is no surge,” Barton said. “No hospitals are asking for support.”
However, county health officials additionally announced Tuesday that the California Department of Public Health had downgraded Riverside County back to the purple, or most restrictive, tier under the governor’s color-coded coronavirus regulatory system, meaning some businesses that had reopened in recent weeks will have to close again.
Gyms, restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship must close or move their operations outside within 72 hours of the Tuesday announcement.
According to RUHS staff, CDPH administrators decided that, based largely on low testing volumes, the county should be reduced from the red tier to the purple tier for at least three weeks. The county has been in the red tier for a month, permitting many businesses to reopen with limited capacities.
Kim Saruwatari, director of the county’s public health department, said Tuesday that the county’s testing rate is currently 195.5 per 100,000 population. The state’s threshold for large counties is 239.1 per 100,000. The other criterion for red tier status is a daily COVID-19 case rate of 7 per 100,000 or less. The county is at 8.4 per 100,000, with an adjusted rate of 9.1 per 100,000, which was applied because the county testing threshold was deemed unsatisfactory.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recently announced “equity” metric, which requires addressing testing and positivity rates in specific communities, is also weighing on the tier designation.
The county’s overall testing positivity rate is 5.2%, which is down seven-tenths of a percentage point compared to two weeks ago and well within red tier criteria, according to RUHS.