Every day, bits and pieces of pre-pandemic life are returning.
Wednesday, after 15 months, Acqua California Bistro at the River in Rancho Mirage reopened its doors to customers.
Founder Jerry Keller said closing for the pandemic helped keep his hardworking employees safe. The reopening is just one sign things are going the right way.
"We're staffing up, everybody's coming back who used to work here and it's a happy occasion for all of us," Keller said at a ribbon cutting event.
The opening comes as county public health officials signal their confidence in the forward rate of the pandemic, dropping their daily Covid-19 updates for weekly reports. The move comes 487 days after the county began counting local cases.
"We hope the worst is behind us but the thing is we’re not done yet," said Jose Arballo, county health spokesman.
He said the move to weekly reports will provide a more accurate picture of coronavirus trends in our communities, as the previous daily numbers were too small to note changes. "We’re trying to get a better picture by providing the weekly updates," Arballo said.
The numbers have steadied out significantly, but the most recent numbers released Wednesday are trending up. Since last Friday, Riverside County reported 1,242 new cases, 8 deaths and 68 hospitalizations.
"A lot of the safest part of this message is just get vaccinated," Arballo said.
The vast majority of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the county involve unvaccinated people, Arballo said, a trend happening across the country.
Wednesday about 47 percent of those 12 or older in the county were fully vaccinated. That's expected to fall short of Riverside County's goal by the end of this month, to reach "community immunity" of 65 to 70 percent fully vaccinated. But officials said there's still time.
"Everybody that wanted to get the vaccine, we believe, has been able to get it," Arballo said. "Now, we need to convince those who are hesitant or on the fence."