ORANGE COUNTY, CA —Nearly seven months after the coronavirus shutdown of March, and 53,448 cases of the virus later, Orange County is teetering on the edge of good news.
On Monday, the county alerted residents that statistics remain on target, well within the "Orange Tier" of Gov. Gavin Newsom's blueprint for reopening. An additional 133 cases of coronavirus were reported in the county on Monday, and no additional deaths were reported.
Fewer than 200 new cases was a good sign, officials say. The county is eyeing the case rate as it teeters between moving up from the red tier to the less restrictive orange tier in the state's monitoring system.
On Tuesdays, the state of California positivity rates and cases per 100,000 people are updated, and that is when county officials will know for sure if they have made it up to the orange tier.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said there is concern about a see-sawing back and forth between the red and orange tiers, because if the county has to step back a tier that locks it into place for at least three weeks even if the metrics match a less-restrictive tier.
"We have some credits that can be applied" to move up to the orange tier Tuesday, Bartlett said. "But I don't think it's enough. We won't know till we hear from the state (later Monday)... We're going to be at or just above (the red tier) is my guess."
It's possible that recent spikes in case rates can be attributed to Labor Day get-togethers and students returning to in-class instruction, but the experts do not know for sure, Bartlett said.
To date in the county, just under 53,500 cases have been reported and just over 1,200 have died. As of Monday, there are 161 residents of Orange County hospitalized due to the COVID-19 disease, and of those, 46 are in intensive care.
Tuesday marks the next day that Orange County could move into the "moderate" level, which would allow for restrictions on businesses and schools to loosen further.
What does the Orange - Moderate Tier mean?
At the moderate level, bars, breweries can open for outdoor service, something not seen since before St. Patrick's Day.
Wineries, bowling alleys, card rooms, and indoor climbing facilities could open at 25 percent capacity as well as indoor restaurant dining, movie theaters, churches.
Restrictions will be eased in yoga studios, malls, zoos, and weddings.
Concert halls, night clubs, festivals, and stadiums must remain closed at the orange tier, according to Newsom's plan, as must theme parks.
As of yet, no reopening plan has been shared with Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, both key centers of employment within Orange County.
Current Coronavirus Statistics By City:
Aliso Viejo - 384 Total Cases
Anaheim - 9147 Total Cases
Brea - 483 Total Cases
Buena Park - 1524 Total Cases
Costa Mesa - 1807 Total Cases
Coto de Caza - 44 Total Cases
Cypress - 550 Total Cases
Dana Point - 276 Total Cases
Fountain Valley - 508 Total Cases
Fullerton - 2478 Total Cases
Garden Grove - 2942 Total Cases
Huntington Beach - 2396 Total Cases
Irvine - 1680 Total Cases
La Habra - 1428 Total Cases
La Palma - 156 Total Cases
Ladera Ranch - 170 Total Cases
Laguna Beach - 224 Total Cases
Laguna Hills - 315 Total Cases
Laguna Niguel - 432 Total Cases
Laguna Woods - 67 Total Cases
Lake Forest - 846 Total Cases
Los Alamitos - 180 Total Cases
Midway City - 122 Total Cases
Mission Viejo - 837 Total Cases
Newport Beach - 1125 Total Cases
Orange - 2424 Total Cases
Placentia - 930 Total Cases
Rancho Mission Viejo - 62 Total Cases
Rancho Santa Margarita - 351 Total Cases
Rossmoor - 67 Total Cases
San Clemente - 529 Total Cases
San Juan Capistrano - 513 Total Cases
Santa Ana - 10302 Total Cases
Seal Beach - 277 Total Cases
Silverado - 43 Total Cases
Stanton - 649 Total Cases
Trabuco Canyon - 200 Total Cases
Tustin - 1274 Total Cases
Villa Park - 54 Total Cases
Westminster - 1032 Total Cases
Yorba Linda - 726 Total Cases
Orange County Schools Ready To Reopen
Orange County's schools are already eligible to reopen for indoor, personal instruction, but not all of them have reopened right away. Schools in Fountain Valley and several other districts reopened last week and on Monday.
It is up to school districts to decide and many are offering "hybrid models" of some in-person instruction and some online-only instruction, Kim said. Some school districts will allow parents to continue with distance learning only.
If there is a breakout at any of the schools, they would have to close for two weeks and have no more COVID-19 cases before reopening, said Dr. Clayton Chau, the county's Health Care Agency director and chief health officer.
Dr. Matthew Zahn of the county's communicable disease control division told reporters Thursday that if 5% of a school's population of students or teachers get infected, the campus will be shut down for two weeks, according to the state's guidelines.
Zahn said the county is reluctant to post information about outbreaks at schools because it tends to send the wrong message that schools without an outbreak are safer, and parents and students may let their guard down.
School officials will respond within 24 hours when there is a COVID-19 infection reported, Zahn said.
With regard to college dormitories as UC Irvine students are moving back to campus, Zahn said, "A significant issue associated with (what happened in San Diego) was off-campus housing and transmission of the virus. We have been talking with UC Irvine and other colleges and universities not only about classroom sites and what's appropriate but dorm facilities and off-campus housing."
"Move-In Week" began last Tuesday at UCI and will continue through Sept. 29. Students are being tested and getting results within 48 to 72 hours.