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Riverside County On Track to Enter Orange Tier Next Week

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Riverside County health officials say the latest COVID-19 numbers are looking good, but there are concerns about a fourth wave and how new virus variants might play a role. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more from Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting.

The latest COVID case numbers are on track to put the county in the orange re-opening tier as soon as next week, but Director of Public Health, Dr. Kim Saruwatari told the board that the public still needs to follow health guidelines, like masking and social distancing. Concerns are growing that a more contagious west coast variant of the virus could drive a fourth wave of cases.

“There are lots of theories out there about what a fourth wave might look like," said Saruwatari. "Because a lot of our older population has been vaccinated many think a fourth wave would occur among our younger populations, and so we might not see the hospitalizations and deaths that we saw with this last wave.”

With the new variants, county Public Health Officer Dr. Geoffrey Leung told the board it is even more important for everybody who is qualified to schedule their vaccine appointment.

“In other words, the best way to protect grandparents or other people who have not been vaccinated including children is actually to vaccinate those people around them," said Leung. "So, we consider that an insulating or sort of cocooning strategy, and really vaccination is our best defense in preventing any future surges.”

Both Riverside and San Bernardino County are following state guidance for the vaccination rollout. They will be opening up eligibility to adults 50 and older on April 1 and for anybody sixteen and older on April 15.