Even though active coronavirus cases have been declining in Riverside County for weeks, the county is still stuck in Governor Gavin Newsom’s dreaded Purple Tier.


In order to move to the less restrictive Red Tier and have more businesses opened up, Riverside County has to meet California’s  metrics for adjusted case rate and positivity rate.


Right now, the county has not done that.


So, Riverside County public health officials are reminding residents that getting tested for coronavirus helps slow the spread of the disease, and may also help meet the red tier metric for adjusted case rate.


“With the recent focus on coronavirus vaccination, it is not surprising the rate for COVID-19 testing among Riverside County residents has dropped significantly over the past few months,” said Board Chair Karen Spiegel, Second District Supervisor. “We want to keep moving forward in reopening and ask residents to continue to do their part by getting tested, wearing a mask and socially distance.”


PCR swab tests for active infections slow the spread of the disease by identifying infected individuals who can then be isolated as well as their close contacts. This process disrupts the virus and slows its spread.


“We’re not at the point where enough people are vaccinated to just stop testing,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer. “We’re getting shots to people as fast as we can, but until then we still have to break the cycle of transmission. We can’t do that without knowing if people are infected, and that means tests.”


Riverside County’s state-evaluated metrics include a 7.6 percent positivity rate and 16.6 adjusted new cases per day for every 100,000 county residents. 


The positivity rate meets California’s Red Tier range which is between 5 and 8 percent.


But the case rate needs to be between 4 and 7 per 100,000 residents to move to the Red Tier, and Riverside County’s is well above that at 16.6…which keeps the county in the Purple Tier for now.



Riverside County’s case rate is also worsened by the upwards adjustment for not reaching the statewide median of PCR swab tests, which is 386.4 per 100,000 population. Riverside County’s test rate, which was well above 800 per 100,000 population late last year, is now at 361.4 per 100,000 residents.


Based on the state’s criteria, if Riverside County tests at a higher rate than the statewide median, the adjusted case rate will be reduced instead of increased.


Testing is free at a county or state-run site and available for anyone. There are also mobile teams that support testing in specific communities, businesses or organizations by testing for one or two days. There are several testing sites spread throughout Riverside County.


To find county and state-run locations and make an appointment, go online to gettested.ruhealth.org.


For a list of other COVID-19 test sites in your area, click https://covid19.ca.gov/get-tested/.


Photo of cars driving through a Covid-19 test site in Riverside CA.

Photo from Riverside County Public Health Dept.