SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS) — Orange County's weekly averages for COVID-19 that were released Tuesday remained much like last week's as encouraging trends continued.
According to weekly state data released every Tuesday, the average for the county's daily case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 0.9 to 0.8. The overall test positivity rate ticked up from 0.6% to 0.7%, and the county's Health Equity Quartile rate, which measures positivity in hot spots in disadvantaged communities, inched up from 0.7% to 0.8%.
Those numbers guaranteed the county to remain in the least-restrictive yellow tier, and — regardless — the state is getting ready to scrap its tier system for reopening the economy on June 15.
"We're bottoming out more than plateauing," said Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention. "We're doing well so I'm liking the numbers... I don't see anything to say we shouldn't reopen."
Noymer does not expect any surge when the state lifts more restrictions next week.
"I have to doff my cap to (Gov. Gavin) Newsom and company," Noymer said. "When they announced a long time ago a June 15 reopening it seemed so forward looking, but it's hard to argue with success. They gambled and they won."
The county reported just 31 new infections on Tuesday, raising the cumulative to 255,504.
Hospitalizations dropped from 64 Monday to 54 Tuesday and the number of intensive care unit patients dropped from eight to seven.
The county's COVID-19 statistics have been "ticking up or down one-tenth of a point day to day so there are no significant changes," Orange County CEO Frank Kim told City News Service on Monday.
"It seems like we've hit a new plateau," Kim said. "Which is good because it's a low plateau."
When considering all residents eligible for inoculation "we're in the 65% range," of those who have received at least one dose of vaccine, Kim said. "We're getting close to 70% of those eligible having at least one shot in the arm."
The county is now focusing on mobile vaccination sites, Kim said.
"We had 22 mobile PODs last week," Kim added.
At one shopping center in Irvine, the county had 200 appointments booked, but 160 showed up, Kim said. Another 80, however, signed up without an appointment and were inoculated, Kim said.
"So we did about 240 that day," he said.
The county logged five more fatalities on Tuesday, raising the cumulative to 5,088.
One fatality occurred last month, raising the death toll for May to 14. Another fatality occurred in April, which has a death toll of 41.
Three of the fatalities occurred in January, raising the death toll for the deadliest month of the pandemic to 1,552.
The death toll for March is 185; 588 in February and 959 for December, the next deadliest. One death has been recorded this month so far.
Another 5,569 COVID-19 tests were reported, bringing the county's total to 3,978,376.
The county's weekly average of tests per 100,000 dropped from 233.1 last week to 210.1.
Orange County officially entered the least-restrictive yellow tier of the reopening blueprint on May 19, which allowed for greater attendance for many businesses such as movie theaters and gyms, while museums, zoos and aquariums were allowed to open at full capacity.
For the first time, bars and distilleries were able to open indoors, and theme parks such as Disneyland could expand attendance.