SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County reported 335 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths today, bringing the county's totals to 63,165 cases and 1,514 fatalities.
The number come one day after state officials announced that the county would remain in the red tier of California's four-tier coronavirus monitoring system for at least another week, with the trend of rising cases putting the county at risk of lapsing back into the most restrictive purple tier next week.
Officials say the daily average of new cases would have to come down to about 130 for Orange County to make it to the orange tier, allowing for more businesses to reopen and for some already open to increase their capacity. But the county has to stay under 229 new daily cases to remain in the red tier.
The number of hospitalizations related to the virus, which had increased from 205 on Monday to 224 on Tuesday, jumped to 244, with the number of intensive care unit patients rising from 79 to 83, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from 13.7% to 16.6%. The county has 31% of its intensive care unit beds and 63% of its ventilators available.
According to OCHCA data, 1,206,059 COVID-19 tests have been conducted since the start of the pandemic, including 8,197 reported Wednesday. There have been 55,559 documented recoveries.
The county's positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, actually declined from 3.6% to 3.3% this week, and the daily case rate per 100,000 population decreased from 6 to 5.6.
The county's Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures a county's response to virus hot spots, decreased from 5.7% to 5.5%. The county has to reach at least 5.2% in that metric to move into the orange tier.
But Orange County CEO Frank Kim cautioned that the weekly metrics reflect last week's statistics. Next week, the county's case rate per 100,000 might jump to about 8, which exceeds the 4 to 7 rate in the red tier.
“Every county in Southern California is reporting the same exact root cause -- people mixing outside their stable cohorts with informal get-togethers,'' he said.
“The good news is we're red and we survive another week, but the bad news is we're trending in the wrong direction,'' Kim said.
Several other counties are struggling with a rise in cases in schools. But often the outbreaks are seen in places of work, such as a local car dealer than had a recent outbreak among its mechanics, Kim said.
Officials are concerned that shutting down more commerce with a reversion to the purple tier would not address the source of the spread, but would have a negative effect on the economy. “But the state so far has not accepted those arguments,'' Kim said.
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