By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County health officials reported 229 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death Thursday.

The new numbers bring the county’s totals to 59,442 cases and 1,468 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.

“The seven-day average is still in the low 5’s on case rates,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Wednesday. “Those high numbers have been spread out over the last week, so hopefully we stay in the red tier.”

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the county’s “other numbers are looking pretty good to help us into the orange tier, but we’re very concerned about surrounding counties,” where case rates are rising.

“Everything is regionalized,” Bartlett said. “We’re a major job center so we employ a lot of people (from surrounding counties) and a lot of our residents go into other counties to work.”

The number of hospitalizations increased from 177 on Wednesday to 181 Thursday with the number of intensive care unit patients dipping from 60 to 59, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from 5.3% to 9.3%. The county has 35% of its intensive care unit beds and 66% of its ventilators available.

Of the 59,442 cases, there have been 53,054 documented recoveries. To date, 1,091,441 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 9,102 reported Thursday.

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 into 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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