By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County’s COVID-19 positivity rate improved enough Tuesday to qualify for the red tier in the state’s guidelines to reopen more businesses, although the county still doesn’t meet all the metrics required to graduate from the most restrictive purple tier.

On Tuesday, the county reported 658 new coronavirus cases along with 40 additional deaths.

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The new numbers brought the county’s total caseload to 243,163 and the death toll to 3,617. The numbers are reflective of the last two days since there wasn’t an update on Monday because of Presidents Day.

Hospitalizations continued to trend downward Tuesday as well. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped from 790 on Sunday to 748 on Tuesday and the number of people in intensive care decreased from 257 to 235.

Of the 40 deaths reported Tuesday, two were skilled nursing facility residents and five were assisted living facility residents, raising those totals to 902 and 406 respectively.

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The county’s adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 people dropped from 29.7 last week to 20.7 on Tuesday, and the test positivity rate on a seven-day average, with a seven-day lag, fell from 9.4% to 7.8%, which meets the criteria for the red tier.

The county’s Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures the cases in highly affected, needier parts of the county, declined from 12.4% last week to 10.7%.

To move to the less-restrictive red tier from the purple tier, the county has to improve to 4 to 7 new daily cases per 100,000 and a 5% to 8% positivity rate with a health equity quartile at 5.3% to 8%.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim said the county has “one foot in the red tier and another firmly planted in purple still.”

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