Orange County reported 528 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths Saturday, bringing the total to 64,586 and 1,524 deaths in the county.
The recent rise in cases – 598 cases reported on Friday – makes it almost certain the county will fall to the most restrictive purple level of the state’s economic opening map next week, officials said.
“It’s not a record, but it gives a lot of arc – we will probably be purple for two consecutive weeks. This ship is sailing,” OC CEO Frank Kim said on Friday.
The number of county residents infected with the virus dropped from 244 on Friday to 235, with 90 of them in intensive care, according to the Orange County Health Agency.
Both deaths on Saturday were residents of specialized hospitals.
The change in the three-day average of hospital patients increased from 17.3% to 8.5%. The prefecture has 30% of its intensive care units and 65% of its fans.
According to OCHCA data, 1,242,434 COVID-19 tests have been performed since the outbreak of the pandemic, including 12,871 reported on Saturday. There were 56,154 documented recoveries.
The county’s positive rate, which is reported every Tuesday, actually dropped from 3.6% to 3.3% this week, and the daily incidence rate per 100,000 population dropped from 6 to 5.6.
The Health Equity Quartile, which measures a county’s response to virus hotspots, dropped from 5.7% to 5.5%. The county must reach at least 5.2% in this measurement to upgrade from red to orange.
Next week, the county’s 100 per cent case could rise to about 8, which is more than 4 to 7 in the red, Kim said.
Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice President Andrew Do said the county will announce next week a plan to provide Koranid home appliances to residents to help reverse the COVID-19 tide.
The county has acquired 500,000 test kits that can detect coronaviruses from saliva. The plans are to make them available in public libraries and city halls across the county, Do said.
“We want it to be mobile and neighborhood-level so people can see the trials as part of their holiday practices,” he said. “Before we go to see your grandparents, two or three days before you try and after your family, you wait two or three days and try again. Then you know how to get in and out – together you are safe and the people you are safe with. “
Experts recommend the buffer for two to three days, because it can take a long time before the infection is detected by a test.
“We have not yet worked through the protocol, but by next week we will have a program that will include sites that are easily accessible to people,” said Do.
The increase in cases is “worrying,” he said. “It shows a very difficult winter season coming, and we mate that with the holiday season and people have to be very careful.”
County officials will soon issue recommendations on best practices for meeting during the holidays, which include outdoor dining and limiting gatherings in numbers, Do said.
“Do the lunch thing where the weather is more tolerable,” he said.
Officials say the daily average of new cases would have to be reduced to about 130 for Orange County to reach the orange rung, allowing more businesses to reopen and some already open to increase capacity. However, the county must remain below 229 new daily cases to remain in the red.
Kim said it was becoming increasingly clear that the county would return from the red to purple. But there will be no capacity changes allowed in stores and other businesses right away, he said.
“You have to be in it for two weeks” before the restrictions take effect, Kim said.
If the county remains at the purple level from November 24, that means the restrictions will take effect three days later. This means that restaurants could still offer indoor food for Thanksgiving and malls will have the extra capacity for Black Friday shopping.
“The governor has done a good job of setting this two-week requirement,” Kim said. “It gives you a week to have this discussion (with business) … Hopefully it doesn’t pay off, but if so, there will be no surprises.”
Schools will not close, but there would be no new school openings unless they were able to make a difference from the county.
Churches, museums, zoos, aquariums, gyms, restaurants and cinemas were among the businesses and institutions that would close for internal activity.