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Orange County Reports 295 New COVID-19 Cases; Officials Fear Slip Back To Purple Tier

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) -- Orange County reported another 295 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, raising the cumulative case count to 63,460.

Six more virus-related fatalities were also reported, bringing the death toll to 1,520.

Officials expressed concern that the county may slip back into the most restrictive purple tier of the state's reopening roadmap.

"The biggest worry we have is not even in the recent rise -- that's a concern -- but it's about Thanksgiving and Christmas,'' County CEO Frank Kim said.

"Most people nationally have been forecasting the worst of COVID is coming'' after the holiday season, he added.

A neighborhood COVID testing site in Santa Ana run by the non profit Latino Health Access had at least 100 more patients this afternoon than what was expected on Thursday.

The area is a COVID-19 hotspot.

"Particularly in Santa Ana we have high community transmission," said Dr. America Bracho, Executive Director of Latino Health Access. "Anything that you do that isn't applying the preventative measures put you at double risk."

At the Anaheim Convention Center super testing site, the number of positive cases jumped from 5% to 9% in the last two weeks.

1:19 Mike Lyster- Anaheim Spokesman

"What we are seeing is that understandably people are fatigued there," said Anaheim Spokesman Mike Lyster. "After eight months of coronavirus...some people are starting to go back to what would have been normal practices gathering together, letting their guard down, and unfortunately that's where we are seeing more cases come from."

The death rate has been trending downward over the past few weeks, but the rate of hospitalizations has been rising significantly.

The number of hospitalizations increased from 244 on Wednesday to 251 on Thursday. The number of ICU patients also rose from 83 to 89.

"I'm not happy,'' Kim said of the hospitalization rate. "That certainly rings the bell. I'm concerned. You can't ignore that trend.''

Officials have been aiming for a daily average of about 130 new cases, so that the county can move toward to less restrictive orange tier. The county has to stay under 229 new daily cases to remain in the red tier.

Kim said it is becoming apparent that the county will fall back from the red tier to the purple tier, but he added that there will not be changes in terms of capacity allowed in stores and other businesses right away.

"You have to be in it for two weeks'' before the restrictions are triggered, Kim said.

"The governor is done a good job of putting in that two week requirement,'' he said. "It gives you a week to have that discussion (with businesses)... Hopefully, it doesn't come to fruition, but if it does there will be no surprises.''

Businesses that would be closed for indoor activity would include churches, museums, zoos, aquariums, gyms, restaurants and movie theaters.

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