A second wave of coronavirus infections could be hitting Orange County after a series of upticks over the past week, with over 500 new cases reported Sunday. 

The county hasn’t seen over 400 new cases reported since early August, when OC was coming out of the summer case spikes. Monday saw an additional 308 cases reported. 

All of the counties surrounding OC, except for San Diego, are in the state’s most restrictive tier of business reopenings because of high positivity rates and daily case rates. 

UC Irvine epidemiologist Daniel Parker said new cases could paint a picture of what was happening a couple weeks ago. 

“The tricky thing is that when the cases start going up, that’s probably something that’s happened two, three weeks ago. So the transmission that’s happening right now, you’re not going to see that in cases for two or three weeks. So when they show up in the numbers it’s too late,” Parker said. 

Last week, OC’s new daily case counts crept above 300 a day before hitting 512 on Sunday. 

Parker said the best way to measure how much the virus is spreading in OC is daily new cases, hospitalizations, the positivity rate and new cases per 100,000 residents. 

“It’s good to keep up with the different metrics. Because one metric could shoot up and it could be a statistical blip,” Parker said. “You could have a bunch of cases reported on the same day.” 

By Sunday, there were 201 people hospitalized, including 72 people in intensive care units. That’s the highest hospitalizations have been since mid September. 

The highest number of hospitalizations happened during the summer virus wave, when over 700 people were hospitalized at one point in July. 

Parker’s colleague, UC Irvine epidemiologist Andrew Noymer said the number of people in ICUs could indicate a second wave. 

“When the ICU stays above 70 for a few days in a row, that’s when we know the game’s on,” Noymer said. “But make no mistake about it, there’s going to be a second wave in Orange County and nationwide.” 

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