Orange County Reports 183 New COVID-19 Cases, One Less Death

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County officials today reported 183 new diagnoses of COVID-19, raising the cumulative case total to 60,298, but readjusted the death toll downward by one, to 1,483.

The rate of deaths has been trending down over the past few weeks. From Oct. 25 through Saturday, there were 39 deaths reported, up from 35 the week before, but lower than 69 the previous week.

The number of hospitalizations related to the virus ticked up from 181 Sunday to 183 Monday, with the number of intensive care unit patients increasing from 55 to 60, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from 7% to 2.2%. The county has 37% of its intensive care unit beds and 66% of its ventilators available.

According to OCHCA data, 1,126,240 COVID-19 tests have been conducted since the start of the pandemic, including 7,747 reported Monday. There have been 53,690 documented recoveries.

The county's positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, has remained at 3.2% for the past three weeks, but the daily case rate per 100,000 population increased from 4.6 last week to 5.1.

The county's Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which is a mandate to focus on hot spots in counties, stands at 6%. The county has to reach at least 5.2% in that metric to move into the orange tier from the red tier.

Officials have said the daily average of new cases would have to come down to about 130 for Orange County to move from the red to the orange tier in the state's coronavirus monitoring system, allowing for more businesses to reopen and for some already open to increase their capacity.

But if cases rise too much, the county could slip back into the most restrictive purple tier.

“Not this Tuesday, but I do think there is a risk two weeks from now'' that the county could slip back into the purple tier, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Friday. “There's a trend of increasing cases in Southern California. It's a concern for all of us because we're going to move as a region.''

He said Orange County officials have not seen a corresponding increase in hospitalization and intensive care unit occupancy, which may indicate that the case rates are rising among young adults who tend to have better outcomes.

“So how do you get these young people 18 to 24 to test at a higher quantity?'' Kim said. “I want to be like San Francisco. I want to be a massive tester. If you're asymptomatic, we can't identify you and get you moved away from your family and friends and get you isolated and treated.''

Officials are hoping another round of stimulus spending from the federal government will include enough funding for a massive upscale in testing and contact tracing, Kim said. The county is also eyeing a number of ways to reach out to young adults to get tested.

Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the county's Health Care Agency and chief health officer, noted the “fluctuation'' in case rates over the past week.

“It's fluctuated between 4.6 to 5.4,'' Chau told reporters last Thursday. “But we are still consistently on the low range of the red tier, knock on wood, hoping we will keep it that way. Obviously, there have been cases rising these past two days and my colleagues have seen that as well. Hopefully we're not looking at a second wave.''

Chau acknowledged that “there's always that risk'' of falling back into the most-restrictive purple tier.

“All of us are working very hard and together as a region to ensure that the community is not running into the fatigue issue with masks and social distancing,'' he said.

Chau also said higher education officials in the county will tell students who intend to go home outside the state for the holidays to remain home and continue the rest of the term studying online “rather than traveling back to Orange County.''

Photo: Getty Images

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