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By Collin Breaux

Orange County is poised to possibly drop down to the least restrictive tier of California’s four-tier, color-coded blueprint system if COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations continue to remain low. The tiers variously prohibit or allow certain activities, including for businesses, and are based on pandemic conditions in a county.

The yellow “minimal” tier is on the horizon for the area, which is currently in the orange “moderate” tier. The move to yellow from orange would lift even further restrictions, but could be moot by June 15 when the tier system will likely be done away with if restrictions are entirely lifted across the state. The statewide lifting of restrictions will be based on if COVID-19 metrics continue to hold steady and there are enough vaccine supplies.

Under the yellow tier, movie theaters and gyms can operate indoors at half capacity and bars can operate indoors at 25% capacity, NBC Los Angeles reports. Stadiums can also open with numerous guidelines, including limited capacity, required reservations, and regional attendees only.

Orange County entered the orange tier on March 31, which allowed increased capacity for indoor dining at restaurants, among other provisions. An area generally has to remain in a tier for several weeks with favorable conditions before moving to a less restrictive tier.

Orange County’s current metrics are three new cases per day per 100,000, 1.6% positivity rate on a seven-day average, and 1.8% health equity quartile positivity rate. In order to advance to the next less restrictive tier, each county must meet an equity metric or demonstrate targeted investments to eliminate disparities in levels of COVID-19 transmission, depending on its size, the state website said. The yellow tier requires less than two cases per 100,000.

Orange County reported 10,355 COVID-19 tests on April 13, and has over 3.4 million cumulative tests so far. There have been 244,823 recoveries to date.

Ten deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Orange County on April 13. There have been 4,849 cumulative deaths in Orange County to date.

A majority of counties in California are in the orange tier, though some are in the more restrictive red “substantial” tier. There is now one county in the widespread tier, 21 in the substantial tier, 33 counties in the moderate tier, and three in the minimal tier.

On the vaccine front, Orange County had reportedly administered close to two million doses.

Nationally, the United States has 31.3 million total cases and approximately 562,000 deaths in total as of Tuesday. California has approximately 3.7 million total cases and 60,465 deaths as of Tuesday. There are approximately 137 million cases worldwide in total.

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