By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A skilled nursing facility resident succumbed to COVID-19 in Orange County, raising the death toll to 980, local health officials reported Monday.

Orange County health officials also reported 94 more coronavirus diagnoses, raising the cumulative caseload to 48,538.

The rate of county residents testing positive for COVID-19 inched up from 4.8% Sunday to 4.9% Monday but remains below the state’s desired threshold of 8%.

Other metrics continued to show improvement, including hospitalization rates, which continued to drop, falling from 329 Sunday to 317 Monday, with the number of intensive care unit patients dipping from 99 to 98.

Last week, Orange County was removed from the state’s watch list. The state mandates that a county stays off the list for 15 days before schools can reopen. However, supervisor Lisa Bartlett said that being off the watch list does not mean that more businesses — such as personal services, shopping malls, restaurants, and bars — will reopen for indoor services.

Hospitalizations, which continued to drop, decreased from 329 Sunday to 317 Monday, while the number of patients in the ICU dipped from 99 to 98.

The county’s case rate per 100,000 residents over 14 days dropped from 76.4 to 75.9 but is still well above the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.

The county has 34% of intensive care unit beds available — up from 32% Saturday and better than the state’s 20% threshold. And the county’s hospitals have 62% of their ventilators available, well above the state standard of 25%.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients stands at – 12%, much lower than the 10% state standard.

Of the 48,538 cases, there have been 41,286 documented recoveries. The O.C. Health Care Agency said that 650,801 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far, with 12,916 reported on Monday.

The county falls within the state’s new “purple tier” of counties for COVID-19, the worst level, but is on the verge of being upgraded to the next tier of red, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled the new rating program.

“We are very close based on the last two weeks of data to almost be moving into red,” said Bartlett.

On Friday, County CEO Frank Kim explained the state has said counties such as Orange that were off the state’s watch list will get credit for the days they were off the list meaning if the county’s good trends continue as expected until Sept. 8, the county can reopen schools for in- classroom instruction.

Monday marked the county’s ninth day off the state’s monitoring list.

Schools in the county are still able to apply for kindergarten through sixth-grade waivers. Most of the waiver applications are coming from secular and other private schools, Kim said.

Also Monday, hair salons and indoor malls were allowed to reopen statewide at 25% capacity.

If Orange County’s trends continue and it makes it into the red tier, then indoor dining, for example, could also reopen at 25% capacity after next week, Bartlett said.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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