A dozen more people in Orange County have succumbed to COVID-19, raising the death toll to 1,081, according to the Health Care Agency.

The HCA also announced 142 new coronavirus diagnoses Friday, raising the county’s cumulative caseload to 50,613.

Three of the 12 fatalities reported on Friday were skilled nursing facility residents and one lived in an assisted living facility. Since the start of the pandemic, 402 of those who have died lived in skilled nursing facilities and 75 lived in assisted living facilities.

Hospitalizations in the county dropped from 239 on Thursday to 223 on Friday, while the number of intensive care unit patients inched up from 64 to 65.

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced a four-tier color-coded system for tracking COVID-19 trends and determining when counties can move forward with business reopenings.

Orange County moved up this week from the most restrictive purple tier, which represents the areas with the most community spread of the virus, to the red tier, which allowed churches, salons and movie theaters to reopen with limited capacity.

In order to move out of a tier, there is a 21-day waiting period.

To get to the next tier — orange — the seven-day rate of residents testing positive for the coronavirus must be between 2% and 4.9%. It is currently at 4.2% in Orange County.

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

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients stands at -5%. The county has 34% of its intensive care units available and 62% of its ventilators available.

The OCHCA reported that 723,864 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 7,252 reported Friday. There have been 44,976 documented recoveries.

At the county’s weekly news conference Thursday, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle 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.

Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer and director of the HCA, said federal officials have “ensured that we have an increased number of flu vaccines available to states.”

“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 a walk-up and drive-thru basis, he said.

Many private kindergarten through sixth-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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