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Riverside County heads toward Orange Tier, Health Officials warn of ‘West Coast’ variant

Some California counties could soon move into the state's less restrictive orange tier including Riverside County.

“Our numbers are looking good,” Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said to Riverside County Supervisors Tuesday morning. “We are tracking to potentially move into the Orange Tier as soon as next week.”

News Channel 3's Dani Romero has more on what's ahead for riverside county.

At El Patio in Palm Springs, they just opened their doors two weeks ago. 

"We really didn't plan it for this way. We took over the restaurant three months ago but it needed a lot of work," said Francisco Sanchez, owner of El Patio.

Sanchez is hoping to expand his hours and be able to serve even more customers in his newly renovated casitas if Riverside County moves to orange tier status soon. 

“Our numbers are looking good,” Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said to Riverside County Supervisors Tuesday morning. “We are tracking to potentially move into the Orange Tier as soon as next week.”

It's a possibility is something Sanchez is welcoming it would mean 50 percent of indoor dining. 

“I’ll be praying for it we all need it," said Sanchez.

A move into the orange tier could happen once the state hits that  four million vaccine mark. 

"We are also closely monitoring the state's vaccination efforts," Saruwatari continued. "Once the state hits four million [vaccination doses] in that lowest quartile, then the upper limit of that Orange Tier case rate is raised, and so the state is on track to get to that four million very soon."

In Riverside County, we are close to reaching a big milestone of one million vaccine doses administered. 

Saruwatari did express a concern about a possible "fourth wave" of infections. "There are lots of theories out there about what a fourth wave may look like," she told the supervisors. Because many older people in our communities have been vaccinated already, the fourth wave could hit the younger population, "and so we might not see the hospitalizations and deaths that we saw with this last wave."

County health officials are also tracking variants of coronavirus. What's being called "The West Coast Variant" is now a "variant of concern" in California, she reported. The transmission of the variant is about 20% higher than the original virus composition, she said.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel." Saruwatari told supervisors.

Below are this Tuesday's metrics:

  • 4.1 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100K
  • 2.3% Overall Positivity Rate
  • 2.4% Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate

California will expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to people ages 50 and older, starting Thursday, April 1.

If you are becoming eligible this week (ages 50+), you can sign up for an appointment now.  

Curative appointments: click here.

Eisenhower Health appointments: click here.

https://youtu.be/ZCAVRxhH-NM

Below are last Tuesday's metrics:

  • 4.8 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100K
  • 4.8 adjusted case rate for tier assignment
  • 2.7% Positivity Rate (7-day average)
  • 2.9% Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate

Riverside County currently meets two of the three metrics to move into the orange tier.

Tuesdays are the days in which the state officials update the county metrics. Typically, Riverside County officials share out this data during their early morning update.

In addition, indoor capacity at gyms and fitness center would go from 10% to 25%.

The "orange" tier would see an expansion to indoor activities, such as 50% capacity for restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship, & zoos/museums.

A move to the "orange" tier would also see the expansion of capacity at live shows. The move would see capacity go from 20% to 30%.

Bars would remain closed indoors. That doesn't begin to reopen until a county reaches the "yellow" tier.

San Bernardino is also close to moving to the "orange" tier. The county could move to the next tier within the next two weeks.

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Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates on reopenings around the state, including here in Riverside County.

Stay up-to-date with the latest local coronavirus news, including reopenings and closing, new case data, live news conferences, and other updates at KESQ.com/Coronavirus or download the News Channel 3 app on the Apple Store and Google Play.

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Jesus Reyes

Dani Romero

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