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Orange County digs deeper into red tier as two coronavirus metrics worsen – OCRegister

http://www.ocregister.com/2020/10/27/orange-county-digs-deeper-into-red-tier-as-two-coronavirus-metrics-worsen/

A reversal in progress on two coronavirus metrics monitored by California public health leaders is planting Orange County more firmly in the red tier of the state’s pandemic tracking system, which determines what can reopen in each county.

The state Department of Public Health’s weekly tier system update on Tuesday, Oct. 27, showed the county’s case rate rose to 5.1 new cases per day per 100,000 residents from 4.6 cases per 100,000 last week.

The share of tests returning positive among some of the county’s pandemic-troubled neighborhoods — called the health equity metric — grew to 6% from 5.6% last week, subtracting from solid gains made since the indicator was introduced earlier this month.

Public health officials are watching health equity to flag higher COVID-19 spread in low-income areas, where many residents can’t work from home and don’t have the health care resources to navigate the pandemic.

Though Orange County lost ground in two carefully watched coronavirus metrics, it held the line on the third: The county’s overall testing positivity — the share of swab tests returning positive — was unchanged since last week at 3.2%.

The three metrics are pillars of the state Department of Public Health’s four-tier tracking system and are critical to public health experts in regulating which business and public sectors can reopen, and at what capacity, as the pandemic drags on.

Counties must remain in one of four tiers – purple, red, orange or yellow – for at least three weeks and qualify in all three metrics for the next tier for two weeks to move forward. Tiers can’t be skipped and counties that backpedal in any metric could return to a stricter level.

Orange County left the purple tier for “widespread” risk on Sept. 8, and since has been in the red tier for “substantial” risk.

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