Orange County Thursday reported four more deaths from COVID-19 and 281 new cases.

The county’s overall coronavirus totals are 50,471 cases and 1,069 fatalities, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Hospitalizations in the county ticked up from 234 Wednesday to 239 Thursday, while the number of intensive care unit patients inched up from 62 to 64. The rate of county residents testing positive for COVID-19 was at 4.2% on a 7-day average. To get to the orange tier the county must be between 2% and 4.9%.

The daily case count per 100,000 people stands at 5.2. To get to the next level, the county must be at 2% to 4.9%.

The OCHCA reported that 716,612 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 5,904 reported Thursday. There have been 44,674 documented recoveries.

Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer and director of the OCHCA, issued a new health order Tuesday that spells out the details of how businesses can reopen.

Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said the county’s libraries will reopen for “a new grab-and-go service” on Sept. 22.

At the county’s weekly news conference Thursday, Chau and Steel emphasized the importance of planning to get flu shots so the county can avoid the so-called “twindemic.”

“I am encouraging everyone in Orange County to get a flu vaccine,” Steel said.

Chau said federal officials have “ensured that we have an increased number of flu vaccines available to states.” State officials are also prioritizing flu shots, Chau said.

“We are expecting several shipments at the end of September,” Chau said. “Be on the lookout for flu shot events in the community throughout the five districts.”

To observe social distancing, county officials will make the flu shots available on walk-up and drive-through basis, he said.

To move up to the next tier of orange, the county will have to be between 1 to 3.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents per day, with a positivity rate between 2% and 4.9% for two consecutive weeks at least.

Many private K-6th-grade schools that won waivers from the county and state returned to in-person instruction Tuesday. They included the Los Alamitos School District’s schools as well as 27 Diocese of Orange schools. Two of the Roman Catholic schools remained in distance learning.

But even with the positive trends, the earliest Orange County’s schools can reopen for personal instruction is Sept. 22.

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