Orange County continues to knock on the door of the orange tier as its COVID-19 numbers have remained relatively stable over the past few weeks, county CEO Frank Kim said Monday.
The county on Monday reported one additional COVID-19 death, raising the death toll to 1,410, and 203 new coronavirus diagnoses, hiking the cumulative total to 57,071.
Hospitalizations increased from 162 Sunday to 168 Monday, while the number of intensive care unit patients rose from 59 to 63, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from .4% to -2%. The county has 36% of its intensive care unit beds and 68% of its ventilators available.
The county also reached a new milestone with testing as it climbed over 1 million.
According to OCHCA data, 1,000,667 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 6,907 reported Monday. There have been 51,018 documented recoveries.
Last week, the county reported 69 fatalities. The previous week, 54 coronavirus deaths were reported, down from 72 the week before and 77 the week before that.
According to the HCA, 524 of the county’s coronavirus fatalities have involved skilled-nursing facility residents and another 111 who died of complications from the virus resided in assisted-living facilities.
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 population declined from 5.2 to 4.6, moving the county closer to an upgrade from the red to the orange tier in the state’s four-tier monitoring system.
“It’s been kind of static,” Kim said of the county’s case rates.
County officials expect on Tuesday that the positivity rate will go down to 3.2% with a case rate of 4.6 per 100,000 people. The county’s health equity number, which is the positivity rate in COVID hotspots such as Santa Ana and Anaheim, has gone down from 6.4% to 5.5% last week. The state wants the health equity number at 5.25% at least to keep a county from moving up to a less-restrictive tier.
“We know more and more schools are reopening for instruction in person, so the fact that we’re holding stable with case rates is a positive sign,” Kim said.
Chapman University, which had an outbreak among a few dozen students, reopened for instruction on Monday along with Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College in Orange.
Officials want daily case rates to average about 130 to get from the red tier — one tier down from the most restrictive purple tier — to the orange tier. To stay in the red tier, the county cannot exceed 225 cases per day, 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.
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.