Orange County reported 113 new cases of COVID-19 and 45 additional deaths Sunday.
The county's hospitalizations for COVID-19 -- a key metric officials are eyeing in this phase of the pandemic -- dropped from 197 Saturday to 187, with the number of COVID patients in intensive care remaining at 43, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported.
Sunday's numbers brought the county's totals to 249,539 cases and 4,607 fatalities since the pandemic began. The test positivity rate as of Sunday was at 2.2% and 3.5% in the so- called health equity category that measures the underprivileged neighborhoods hardest hit during the pandemic.
The county had 33.3% of its ICU beds available, and 72% of its ventilators.
The OCHCA also reported 8,003 COVID-19 tests Sunday, raising the cumulative total to 3,249,404. There have been 240,949 documented recoveries. The case rate was 4 per 100,000 residents. But that does not automatically propel the county into the orange tier of the state's economic re- opening system. That will not happen until April 7 at the earliest if the current trends continue.
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said the county could make it to the orange tier sooner if the state authorizes it, as it did when officials moved up the county's graduation into the red tier.
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said it could hinge on whether the state makes its goal of 4 million inoculations in the underprivileged communities by the beginning of April. The county is doing 312.9 tests per 100,000 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag. The county's testing average mirrors the state average, Kim said.
The latest weekly update from the state, issued on Tuesday, showed the county's test positivity rate improved to 2.2% from 3.2% from the previous Tuesday, and the adjusted case rate per 100,000 people on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag improved from 6 to 4. That puts the county just one-tenth of a point away from meeting the threshold for the orange tier for case rate. If the trend continues, the county could move up to the orange tier by April 7, three days after Easter.
County supervisors on Tuesday will consider whether to approve a memorandum of understanding with the state or Blue Shield on vaccine distribution. Kim said the county is inclined to go with Blue Shield because it will be easier to transition its Othena app to the insurance company's data- collection system.