OC Reports 85 New COVID-19 Cases, Fewer Hospitalizations

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County health officials have reported 85 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 56,672 cases with 1,409 fatalities.

The county has reported 69 COVID-19-related deaths since last Sunday.

The previous week, 54 coronavirus deaths were reported, down from 72 the week before and 77 the week before that.

The eight deaths reported Saturday come from multiple sources such as hospitals, so the reporting is staggered. Four were residents of skilled-nursing facilities, and one was a resident of an assisted-living facility.

Since the pandemic began, 524 of the county's fatalities involved skilled-nursing facility residents and 111 resided in assisted-living facilities.

Hospitalizations dropped from 170 on Friday tom 159, while the number of intensive care unit patients dropped from 66 to 56, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from 1.6% to .2%. The county has 35% of its intensive care unit beds and 68% of its ventilators available.

According to OCHCA data, 984,271 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 8,723 reported Saturday. There have been 50,747 documented recoveries.

The positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, inched up from 3.2% last week to 3.5%, but the daily case rate per 100,000 people declined from 5.2 to 4.6, moving the county closer to an upgrade from the red to the orange tier in he state's monitoring system.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim said the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider increasing spending on efforts to help improve safety at skilled nursing facilities.

County officials plan to use CARES Act funding to provide more personal protective equipment, staffing and other needs to skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, said Dr. Clayton Chau, the director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and the county's chief health officer.

Some resources also will be directed toward community clinics to help reach out to residents with chronic health conditions, he said.

Officials are aiming for a weekly average of 130 new cases daily, which would vault the county from the second-most restrictive red tier to the orange tier of the state's four-tier economic-reopening roadmap. The county has to remain under 225 to stay within the red tier, Kim said.

To qualify for the orange tier, the positivity rate must be 2% to 4%, and the case rate per 100,000 must be 1 to 3.9.

With the holiday season advancing, Chau warned people to avoid extended family gatherings. And for Halloween, families are encouraged to celebrate at home or online or take part in drive-thru events that promote physical distancing, he said.

Parents could dress up their kids in costume and do a walk around the neighborhood with their immediate family, but 'personally, I say stay home," Chau said. He noted if there is infection linked to a Halloween event, "It would be difficult to find and notify those who were exposed.'"

For Dia De Los Muertos, residents are encouraged to view altars online or displays that are viewable to passersby, Chau said. "Do not mix with other households -- that's really important," he said. "Parties and in-person, door-to-door trick-or-treating pose a high risk of transmitting COVID-19. This year, I would suggest parents maybe you should buy candy and give it to your own kid."

Moving to the orange tier would mean retail businesses could operate at full capacity, instead of 50% as required in the red tier. Shopping malls could also operate at full capacity, but with closed common areas and reduced food courts, just as in the red tier.

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