By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County officials reported 19 more people have succumbed to COVID-19 and 317 additional cases of coronavirus.

To date, the county has reported 1,007 deaths and 49,142 total cases.

Of the deaths reported Wednesday, seven were skilled nursing facility residents. Since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 379 skilled nursing facility residents and 67 assisted living facility residents.

Despite the grim milestone, the county’s overall metrics are trending positively, with the county now meeting all of the standards to move up into the red tier.

The county currently falls within the state’s “purple tier,” but is on the verge of being upgraded to the next tier — red. Tuesday would have marked the county’s 10th day off the state’s monitoring list.

“Our numbers meet the criteria for moving from the purple tier to the red tier,” said Orange County CEO Frank Kim.

“We know our residents and businesses are doing a good job. We hope they continue to observe all of the guidance recommended from our health officer and throughout the state through this really important Labor Day weekend. If we all continue to do that, we have a very good chance of coming out of our purple tier and relaxing some of the restrictions and being able to support all of the industries allowed under the red tier.”

As for the death toll, Kim said, “We are starting to see a gradual decline in the numbers of deaths and we genuinely believe deaths are a trailing indicator. And we’re hopeful with the reduction in hospitalizations and the cooperation of all businesses and industries (in social distancing) that we will continue to see lower case rates, which will lead to a lower number of deaths.”

Hospitalizations continued to decrease Wednesday dropping to 295 from 307 the day prior. Of those hospitalized, 89 were in intensive care units.

The county has 31% of intensive care unit beds available, better than the state’s 20% threshold. The county’s hospitals have 63% of their ventilators available, well above the state standard of 25%.

The rate of county residents testing positive for COVID-19 remained at 5%, which is below the state’s desired threshold of 8%.

The county’s new case rate per 100,000 residents over 7 days is 5.6. To move to the next tier, the county has to be between 4 and 7.

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

Of the 49,142 total cases, there have been 42,375 documented recoveries. The OCHCA reported 664,745 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 7,605 reported on Wednesday.

The earliest that Orange County’s schools could reopen for personal instruction is Sept. 22.

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.

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

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