By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CNS) — Orange County health officials reported 309 additional COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths Friday, heightening concern that the county could slip back into the most restrictive purple tier.

The new numbers bring the county’s death toll to 1,503 and raise the cumulative case count to 61,421.

It is possible that the cases reported on Friday are spread out over the past couple of weeks as they come from numerous testing sources that submit the results in different ways, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.

“For whatever reason, those entities are submitting results in a somewhat delayed fashion to the state,” Kim said. “When the state gets them they put it in the daily buckets based on the date of sample collection.”

Still, the rise in cases throughout the Southland is undeniable, Kim said.

“Our numbers still look OK,” compared with many other neighboring counties, Kim said.

Of the deaths reported on Friday, three were skilled nursing facility residents.

The rate of deaths has been trending down over the past few weeks. From Oct. 25 through last Saturday, there were 39 deaths reported, up from 35 the week before, but lower than 69 the previous week. Since Sunday, 21 deaths have been reported.

The number of hospitalizations dipped from 178 Thursday to 177 Friday, while the number of patients in the intensive care unit decreased from 76 to 72, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from -2.7% to -0.7%. The county has 38% of its intensive care unit beds and 64% of its ventilators available.

Of the 61,421 cases, there have been 54,645 documented recoveries. According to OCHCA data, 1,160,473 COVID-19 tests have been conducted since the start of the pandemic, including 12,034 reported Friday.

The county’s positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, but was reported Wednesday this week because of the election, rose from 3.2% to 3.6%, and the daily case rate per 100,000 population increased from 5.1 last week to 6.

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

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