By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County reported another 31 coronavirus-related fatalities, raising the death toll to 1,391.

An additional 153 cases were also reported, bringing the total case count to 56,436 since the pandemic began.

After a two-day streak of reporting no new deaths, county health officials announced 19 deaths on Wednesday. So far, 51 deaths have been reported since Sunday.

However, the deaths from Thursday were spread out over the past few months, according to Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the O.C. Health Care Agency and the county’s chief health officer.

“The number doesn’t mean we have 31 dead since yesterday,” he said, adding that some of the deaths date as far back as June.

“I don’t know how or why that happens, but there is a delay in reporting deaths,” Chau said.

The number of new cases was down from Wednesday, but still higher than the daily average of about 130 new cases that the county is trying to hit to move into the less-restrictive orange tier of the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system.

Hospitalizations decreased from 165 Wednesday to 164 Thursday, while the number of intensive care unit patients increased from 60 to 66.

The positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, inched up from 3.2% last week to 3.5%, but the daily case rate per 100,000 people declined from 5.2 to 4.6.

Chau said on Thursday that the county’s positivity rate has “consistently been in the range of the orange tier for more than a month.”

But the case rate per 100,000 has kept the county within the red tier.

Chau reminded residents to avoid extended family gatherings, even as the holiday season approaches. For Halloween, he encouraged families to celebrate at home, online, or take part in drive-thru events.

He noted if there is infection linked to a Halloween event, “It would be difficult to find and notify those who were exposed.”

“Do not mix with other households — that’s really important,” he said. “Parties and in-person, door-to-door trick-or-treating pose a high risk of transmitting COVID-19. This year, I would suggest parents maybe you should buy candy and give it to your own kid.”

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

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