By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County officials Thursday reported seven coronavirus-related deaths along with 158 newly confirmed cases.

The new numbers brought the county’s total to 1,275, deaths and 53,909 cases since the pandemic began.

The seven deaths happened over the past few weeks due to a lag in reporting. Since Sunday, the county has reported 61 fatalities.

Of the seven deaths reported Thursday, two were skilled nursing facility residents. Since the pandemic began, 457 of the fatalities have involved skilled nursing facility residents and 89 were assisted living facility residents.

Hospitalizations jumped up from 172 on Wednesday to 158 on Thursday while the number of patients in intensive care decreased from 48 to 45.

The positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, stands at 3.1%, the same as last week, but the daily case rate per 100,000 people went up from 3.6 to 4.4, which is higher than the cutoff of 3.9 to qualify for the state’s orange tier.

The new metrics mean the county will remain in the red tier for at least another two weeks, but there is hope the trend will continue and the county will be able to move up to the orange tier by mid-October.

According to Dr. Clayton Chau, the director of the Health Care Agency and the county’s chief health officer, last Thursday’s and Friday’s numbers put the county over the top.

“We’ve had a few days of uptick in numbers, small but significant to affect our tier system,” Chau told the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Chau said it appears that Labor Day gatherings led to the increase.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim said young adults renting out vacation residences for parties could hinder the county’s numbers.

The small spike in cases per 100,000 people “doesn’t signify something terrible in the community,” Kim said. “When you get down to around 3.5 to 4 cases per 100,000 that’s very small.”

The OCHCA has reported 870,461 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 5,514 reported Thursday.

Of the 53,909 cases, there have been 48,545 documented recoveries.

To qualify for the orange tier, the positivity rate must be 2%-4%, and the case rate per 100,000 must be 1%-3.9%.

Moving to the orange tier would allow retail businesses could operate at full capacity as well as shopping malls.

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 under the orange tier.

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

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