By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County remained in the red tier this week for the state’s COVID-19 metrics, but the trend of rising cases puts the county at risk of lapsing back into the most restrictive purple tier next week.

On Tuesday, the county reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional fatalities.

The new numbers brought the county’s total to 62,830 cases and 1,512 deaths since the pandemic began.

“The good news is we’re red and we survive another week, but the bad news is we’re trending in the wrong direction,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said, calling the rise in transmission of COVID-19 a regional, state and national problem. “I just looked at the state data site and it’s not good.”

Orange County is in a better place than other counties, he said.

“Compared to the region it’s a good number,” Kim said of the county’s case rate per 100,000 population. Kim said the county has to stay under 229 new daily cases to remain in the red tier.

Officials say the daily average of new cases would have to come down to about 130 for Orange County to make it to the orange tier, allowing for more businesses to reopen and for some already open to increase their capacity.

The number of people hospitalized rose from 205 on Monday to 224 on Tuesday and the number of patients in the intensive care unit jumped from 76 to 79, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from 12.7% to 13.7%. The county has 32% of its intensive care unit beds and 64% of its ventilators available.

Of the 62,830 cases, there have been 55,330 documented recoveries. According to OCHCA data, 1,197,862 COVID-19 tests have been conducted since the start of the pandemic, including 7,130 reported Tuesday.

The county’s positivity rate, which is reported each Tuesday, actually declined from 3.6% to 3.3%, and the daily case rate per 100,000 population decreased from 6 to 5.6.

The county’s Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures a county’s response to virus hot spots, decreased from 5.7% to 5.5%. The county has to reach at least 5.2% in that metric to move into the orange tier.

Kim cautioned that the weekly metrics reflect last week’s statistics. Next week, the county’s case rate per 100,000 might jump to about 8, which exceeds the 4 to 7 rate in the red tier.

“Every county in Southern California is reporting the same exact root cause — people mixing outside their stable cohorts with informal get-togethers,” he said.

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

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