By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County reported another 528 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 64,586.

A 360 Clinic health care worker working with the Orange County Health Care Agency and city of Costa Mesa conducts testing at the drive-through self-administered COVID-19 testing super site at the Orange County Fair & Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 in Costa Mesa, CA. California is approaching 1 million cases, although the spread remains slower in the state than in other hot spots across the country. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

An additional two virus-related deaths were also reported, raising the death toll to 1,524.

The recent spike in cases makes it very probable that the county will be knocked back into the purple tier of the state’s reopening roadmap, which is the most restrictive tier.

“It’s not a record, but it pretty much puts a bow on it — we’ll probably be purple two weeks in a row. That ship has sailed,” County CEO Frank Kim said Friday.

The number of hospitalizations decreased from 244 on Friday to 235 on Saturday. There are currently 90 people in ICU beds.

Both of Saturday’s fatalities were resident of skilled-nursing homes.

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

Next week, the case rate per 100,000 could jump to 8, which is higher than the range to stay in the red tier, Kim said.

Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Andrew Do said the county is gearing up to announce a plan to provide at-home testing kits for COVID-19 to residents.

The county has acquired 500,000 test kits and are planning to make them available at public libraries and city halls throughout the county, Do said.

“We want it to be mobile and at the neighborhood level, so people can see testing as part of their holiday safe practices,” he said. “Before you go see your grandparents, two or three days before you get tested, and after the family get-together, you wait two or three days and get tested again. Then that way you know going in or coming out of a get-together you’re safe and the people you are with are safe.”

Experts recommend the two- to three-day buffer because it can take that long before the infection is detected from a test.

“We haven’t worked through the protocol yet, but by next week we’ll have a program that will include locations that are easily accessible to people,” Do said.

Do called the rise in cases “alarming,” adding that “it points to a very difficult winter season coming up, and couple that with the holiday season and people need to be very vigilant.”

The daily average of new cases would have to reduce to around 130 for the county to move to the less restrictive orange tier. But, the county must stay under 225 new daily cases to remain in the red tier.

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

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