By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County health officials reported 255 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths Tuesday.

The new numbers bring the county’s totals to 58,980 cases and 1,454 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The relatively high number of daily cases continues to jeopardize the county’s chance to move into the less-restrictive orange tier of the state’s re-opening road-map.

County officials have said the daily average would have to come down to about 130 for Orange County to move from the red to the orange tier.

If the trend continues the county could face a slip back into the most restrictive purple tier.

“I hope not, but I guess it depends on the day of the week those cases are related to,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said of the coronavirus cases reported Tuesday. “It could be over the last two weeks. If that’s the case it’s not as bad, but the trend is not positive.”

Kim said the rise in cases is a “similar trend to what we’re seeing in Southern California,” so if cases rise elsewhere in the Southland it is likely inevitable they will also rise in Orange County.

“The concern most people have is we’re heading into the holiday season and we’re worried that with the continued rise in cases we could end up in another crisis with hospitalization challenges, but I guess the good news so far is we haven’t seen the case counts impact the hospitalizations, so that is the best news so far.”

The number of hospitalizations dipped from 162 Monday to 157 Tuesday with the number of intensive care unit patients rising from 55 to 59, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from -6.5% to -4.1%. The county has 35% of its intensive care unit beds and 70% of its ventilators available.

Of the 58,980 cases, there have been 52,643 documented recoveries. To date, 1,075,250 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 8,402 reported Tuesday.

The county’s positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, has remained at 3.2% for the last three weeks, but the daily case rate per 100,000 population increased from 4.6 last week to 5.1.

That leaves the county still close to moving up from the red to the orange tier in the state’s four-tier monitoring system.

The county’s Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which is a mandate to focus on hot spots in counties, stands at 6%. The county has to reach at least 5.2% in that metric to move up to the orange tier.

Under the orange tier, retail businesses could operate at full capacity, instead of 50% as required in the red tier. Shopping malls could also operate at full capacity, but with closed common areas and reduced food courts.

Orange County officials expect to remain in the red tier this week, Kim said.

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

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