RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — Riverside County health officials Thursday reported 482 newly confirmed coronavirus infections and two additional virus-related fatalities, bringing the number of cases recorded since the start of the pandemic to 70,309 and the death toll to 1,331.
The number of known active cases countywide is 6,718, an increase of 229 from the day before. The active count is derived by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the current total — 70,309 — according to the county Executive Office. The number of verified patient recoveries is 62,260.
Riverside University Health System officials reported 201 hospitalizations tied to the virus as of Thursday, down nine from the day before. That number includes 57 intensive care unit patients, up one from Wednesday.
In comparison, Riverside County reported 149 COVID-positive hospitalizations and 35 ICU patients last Thursday.
Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the hospitalization rates have been gradually ascending over the last month, but he noted they are well below the mid-July highs, when nearly 600 people were hospitalized.
"Hospitals and clinics have returned to pre-COVID levels, so those who really need care (for anything) need to come to our hospitals," Barton said. "They are safe."
It was also announced during the Tuesday board meeting that coronavirus screenings have increased significantly in Riverside County, and with them, a proportional rise in cases.
"A lot of outreach and work was done to increase testing, and that has been successful," Department of Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said. "We have increased tremendously."
She said the county is now at a ratio of 236.4 tests per 100,000 residents in COVID-19 screenings, compared to 221.6 tests per 100,000 just over a week ago. The state threshold for large counties is 239.21.
The county's coronavirus positivity rate is 5.9 percent, up slightly from last week, and Saruwatari attributed part of the uptick to an ongoing elevated number of infections recorded in the eastern Coachella Valley.
The California Department of Public Health has calculated the county's COVID-19 case rate at 11.5 per 100,000.
The agency two weeks ago reclassified the county in the "purple" tier, the most restrictive under the state's color-coded coronavirus regulatory framework, meaning some businesses that had reopened in recent weeks were required to move their operations outdoors or close again. The designation impacts gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship, zoos and museums.