The number of coronavirus cases in Orange County rose to 22 Monday.
So far, 14 men and eight women have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Eleven are in the 18- to 49-year-old age group, seven are 50 to 64 and four are 65 or older.
Thirteen contracted the virus through travel, four through person-to-person spreading, and four fall in the “community acquired” category, according to the health agency. One is listed as “under investigation.”
Of the community-acquired patients, three are men and one is a woman. One is 18- to 49-years-old, two are 50 to 64 and one is older than 65.
The agency has tested 300 people and has kits available to test 1,075 people.
An employee at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa has tested positive for the virus, and the shopping center’s executives announced the shopping center will close until March 31.
“South Coast Plaza has elected to temporarily close given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said South Coast Plaza spokeswoman Debra Gunn Downing. “Our understanding that closures of public gathering places in Orange County are important for a chance to meaningfully stem this pandemic is the reason we took this action.”
The shopping center will close at 7 p.m. The store where the employee worked closed earlier. But Downing said the employee’s positive test wasn’t the reason the entire mall was closed, but, she said “it reinforced the need for us to take action.”
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do said some private healthcare providers are discussing establishing drive-through test sites, where specimens could be collected and then sent out to a laboratory for testing. Patients would be referred to those sites by their physicians if they show symptoms of the virus, he said.
“This effort is being explored by private-sector providers in conjunction with private labs that conduct testing,” Do said. “Private labs acquire their own test kits and results are not immediate.”
It could take few hours to a couple of days for results to be obtained, Do said.
“We do not know how many tests will be collected at each location or what criteria these private providers will use to determine who gets tested,” he said. “As information becomes available, we will inform the public as quickly as possible.”
Do emphasized that the county does not have any control over how some agencies such as CalOptima, the insurance provider for the county’s indigent, or private healthcare companies respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
Do recommended anyone who thinks they may have contracted the virus to call their doctor first and take direction from them. Authorities are discouraging calls to 911 unless it is an emergency.
The general public is encouraged to call the county’s hotline from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. any day of the week at 800-564-8448, and can check the county’s site for COVID-19 at ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.
Orange County supervisors will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to get an update on what local authorities are doing to stem the tide of the virus.
All of the county’s schools have closed down until at least the end of the month, and Orange County Superior Court officials have moved to cut down on the number of cases handled during the outbreak.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is suspending visitation with inmates until at least March 27. But inmates will get to make two five-minute phone calls a week for no charge during the suspension.
Attorneys may still make officials visits with their clients.
Visitors to the jail cannot touch inmates, who are behind a barrier, but the real risk is the large crowds that gather in the jail lobby waiting for a visit, according to Sheriff Don Barnes.
Visits to Orange County Juvenile Hall, Youth Leadership Academy and Youth Guidance Center have also been suspended. Attorneys and other professionals will still be allowed visits with clients.
The OC Probation Department’s regional offices have also been closed and clients will be encouraged to speak with a supervisor over the phone when possible. But probationers still must report to a regional office when released from custody for further instructions.
Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen announced Monday morning that he is closing his department’s offices, which provide services including passports and marriages, to the public starting Tuesday to help combat the spread of coronavirus.
The Clerk-Recorder’s offices will continue some services electronically or through the U.S. mail, and details on how to do that are on the department’s website at ocrecorder.com.
“We are committed to upholding the highest of standards in service and safety to our customers and employees, especially during this difficult time,” Nguyen said. “We will remain operational and continue to provide service to the public online or by mail.”
The county’s Social Services Agency offices in Laguna Hills, Santa Ana, Cypress and Garden Grove will also close on Tuesday.
OC Animal Care has been closed to the general public and adoptions will continue by appointment only.
Santa Ana has shut down its libraries, community centers and its zoo. City-sponsored events will be capped off less than 50. The city’s senior center has been closed and seniors who depend on the meals program will be able to pick up frozen to-go meals at 424 W. 3rd St.
Like many area cities, Dana Point announced it has closed its public counters and lobbies in City Hall, but city staff will be on hand or will work from home so services can be provided online or over the telephone.
In Fullerton, City Manager Kenneth Domer signed a proclamation of a local emergency on Monday to better coordinate efforts to stem the spread of the virus with state and federal authorities. City Council members will consider ratifying the proclamation at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The OC Fair & Event Center has shut down until further notice, with Cirque du Soleil’s “VOLTA” among the canceled events. There are no plans as of now to reschedule the annual OC Fair, scheduled to begin in July.
The outbreak also forced the postponement of the 21st annual Newport Beach Film Festival, which was scheduled for April. Instead, the event will be held Aug. 6-13 and then return to its normal scheduling in April next year.
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