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By Zach Cavanagh

Where California’s counties stand in the state’s four-tiered, color-coded coronavirus monitoring system as of Nov. 4. Graphic: California Department of Public Health

For the ninth consecutive week, Orange County remained in the red “substantial” tier—the second-highest risk level of the state’s four-tiered, color-coded coronavirus monitoring system—in the state’s latest update on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

The system is the main component of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy for determining in what capacity different sectors, businesses and activities can reopen safely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The state normally provides updates each Tuesday, but the update was delayed this week due to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Orange County continued to hold at red levels in two of the state’s three metrics, with 6.0 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a 5.7% health equity positivity rate. The countywide testing positivity stayed below the orange “moderate” tier level at 3.6%

The daily case rate rose again from 5.1 cases per 100,000 last week and 4.6 cases the week before, and the health equity rate decreased from 6%. The countywide testing positivity rose slightly from 3.2% last week.

The countywide testing positivity has been at an orange level since Sept. 8, and the county came close to moving down to orange as the daily case rate dipped to an orange level on Sept. 22. However, the daily case rate ticked up again to the red level on Sept. 29 and remained there through October.

Since being introduced on Oct. 6, the health equity rate has been at a red level. There was a significant drop to 5.6% on Oct. 20, but the rate rose again the next week. The health equity rate measures the testing positivity in the county’s low-income and more racially diverse neighborhoods.

To move down to the orange tier, Orange County would need to have its metrics at orange levels for two consecutive weeks. If the county’s daily case rate is stable or declining but not at the next level, there would be the possibility of moving down if the testing positivity and health equity metrics meet the level for two tiers lower—that is, yellow “minimal” risk tier levels while in the red tier.

The orange tier requires the case rate to sit between 1.0 and 3.9, the testing positivity between 2.0% and 4.9%, and the health equity rate between 2.2% and 5.2%. The yellow tier, the lowest of the four tiers, requires a case rate lower than 1.0, testing positivity below 2.0% and health equity rate lower than 2.2%.

Orange County first moved from the purple “widespread” tier—the state’s highest risk tier—to the red tier on Sept 8, as soon it was eligible to move down after the state had introduced the system on Aug. 28.

Zach Cavanagh

Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at

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