By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — The Orange County Health Care Agency Tuesday reported 306 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and one more death, bringing countywide totals to 60,604 cases and 1,484 deaths.

The county’s positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, has remained at 3.2% for the past three weeks, but the daily case rate per 100,000 population increased from 4.6 last week to 5.1. That metric will be officially reported Wednesday because of the election, Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the HCA and the county’s chief health officer, told the Orange County Board of Supervisors today.

Officials have said the daily average of new cases would have to come down to about 130 for Orange County to move from the red to the orange tier, allowing for more businesses to reopen and for some already open to increase their capacity. If the case count rises too much, it faces the likelihood of slipping back a tier.

“Three hundred is not good,” said Orange County CEO Frank Kim. “But it’s par for the course for what we’re seeing in Southern California.”

Kim said he hopes the uptick in cases reported Tuesday dates back over the past few weeks.

“Hopefully it is related to stuff two weeks ago and has already washed through our health system,” Kim said. “But it’s pretty clear we’re in an environment of rising case rates. The only question is when do we hit our peak and what is the impact on hospitalizations. So far the hospitalizations have been minor, but who knows.”

Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the county’s Health Care Agency and chief health officer, continued to encourage people to remain home if sick, get a flu vaccine, wear a face covering and continue practicing social distancing.

Family gatherings during the holidays is “my source of anxiety now,” Chau said, adding, “Just folks gathering, getting fatigue about all the (social distancing) behavior they need to do. It’s not just happening in California, but it’s happening elsewhere in the U.S., as well as worldwide. Several countries in Europe have entered lockdown for a month.”

Board Chairwoman Michelle Steel asked county staff during Tuesday’s meeting about what impact a tentative ruling this week from a Sutter County Superior Court judge restricting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s authority to issue executive orders during an emergency will have on Orange County.

“It was a very interesting decision,” County Counsel Leon Page said. “It was a tentative decision so it’s not final yet, not binding on the court. The judge can change her mind.”

As of Tuesday, there were 177 people with COVID-19 hospitalized, 60 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. There have been 53,934 documented recoveries.

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

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