Orange County removed from COVID-19 watch list, setting in motion the reopening of more schools

The removal comes as hospitalizations and other key metrics in the county have been moving in the right direction.
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County was removed from the state's coronavirus watch list Sunday morning.

The removal comes as hospitalizations and other key metrics in the county have been moving in the right direction, with the rate of county residents testing positive for COVID-19 at 5.4%, which falls below the state's desired threshold of 8%.

The county could be placed back on the list should it be flagged for exceeding any one of six different metrics for three consecutive days. Those metrics are the case rate, the percentage of positive tests, the average number of tests a county is able to perform daily, changes in the number of hospitalized patients and the percentage of ventilators and intensive care beds available.

Businesses like restaurants waiting to resume indoor services are still bound by the state's health order, but county officials say they expect to get new guidelines from the state this week which could change what is allowed to reopen.

For Orange County schools, the countdown has started for possible reopening.

Removal from the watch list sets in motion the reopening of more schools. The state mandates a county must be off the watch list for 15 days before schools can reopen, said Dr. Clayton Chau, the county's interim chief health officer and director of the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Chau said it's possible that all K-12 schools in the county could reopen by early September. It will be up to individual districts to decide if students will return to campus.

Several private elementary schools and the Los Alamitos Unified School District had already received approval via waivers to resume in-person education on campus.

Download the ABC7 Los Angeles app on your iPhone or Android device and opt into push notifications to get the latest coronavirus updates.


"The majority of applications have large staff & parent support. We weighed the risks & the benefits of offering in-person education," the Orange County Health Care Agency tweeted Thursday. "There are parents who only want online education for their children; and we encourage that, especially children who are at higher risk."



WATCH: We've broken down Gov. Gavin Newsom's 4 phase plan with what's reopening in California

EMBED More News Videos

We've broken down Gov. Gavin Newsom's 4 phase plan with what's reopening in California.


Some parents with children in Los Alamitos schools were ready to send them back, but others remained cautious.

"I think we should wait. Maybe just another couple of weeks but we don't know enough," said Susan Mason.

City News Service contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.