SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County reported 22 additional coronavirus deaths and 181 new cases Tuesday as county officials anticipated an upgrade to the less restrictive orange tier of the state’s monitoring system.
The new numbers bring the county’s totals to 52,382 cases and 1,150 fatalities since the pandemic began.
According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, the new deaths were spread out over the past few weeks. Officials said the lag in reporting is common since the data come from multiple sources.
Of the deaths reported, two were skilled nursing facility residents and two were assisted living facility residents.
Since the pandemic began, 425 skilled-nursing facility residents and 79 assisted-living facility residents in Orange County have succumbed to the coronavirus.
The last double-digit day of fatalities occurred at the end of last month.
In order to move up from the red tier, which the county is currently in, to the orange tier in the state’s four-tier monitoring system, the county must have a daily new case rate per 100,000 of 1 to 3.9 and a positivity rate of 2 to 4.9%.
Orange County officials say COVID-19 numbers are improving enough to move it up a level to the orange tier within a week as the overall positivity rate went from 3.9% to 3.1%, and the daily case count per 100,000 people dropped from 4.7 to 3.6.
The county has to remain within that range for another week before it can move up to the orange tier, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.
“There has been a steady but consistent decline in testing positivity rate,” Kim said. “Things are looking good.”
Kim said considering the average incubation period of two weeks, if Labor Day gatherings were going to have an effect, county officials would be seeing it by now.
He believes the adherence countywide to facial coverings and other social distancing has helped stop the spread of coronavirus.
“It’s a big week,” Kim said. “If we miss it this week you have to wait another seven days.”
Under the orange tier, retail businesses could operate at full capacity, instead of 50% in the current red tier and shopping malls also could operate at full capacity, but with closed common areas and reduced food courts just as in the red tier.
The orange tier also boosts capacity for churches, restaurants, movies, museums, zoos and aquariums from 25% capacity to half capacity. Gyms and fitness centers could boost capacity from 10% to 25% and reopen pools.
Family entertainment centers like bowling alleys and wall climbing would also be able to open indoors to 25% capacity.
Orange County’s schools are already eligible to reopen for indoor, personal instruction, but not all of them will reopen right away. Schools in Fountain Valley reopened on Tuesday.
Last week, the county reported 34 fatalities, down from 42 the week prior. Since Sunday, 23 fatalities have been reported.
Hospitalizations in the county dropped from 178 on Monday to 170 on Tuesday, and the number of patients in intensive care decreased from 64 to 55.
Of the 52,382 cases, there have been 47,197 documented recoveries. To date, 805,192 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 7,004 reported Tuesday.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)