The number of coronavirus cases in Orange County jumped up to 656 Thursday, with the death toll rising to 13.
On Wednesday, the number stood at 606 with 10 deaths.
The number of patients hospitalized increased from 94 to 115 on Thursday, with 47 in intensive care. On Wednesday there were 31 in intensive care.
Of the county’s cases, 40% are between the ages of 45 and 64, 16% between 35 and 44, 15% between 25 and 34, 10% between 18 and 24, and 18% over 65. One patient is described as a child, but an age and gender were not released. Men make up 55% of the county’s cases, 44% are female and the rest is unknown.
Of the patients who have died of complications from COVID-19, seven were 65 or older, two were 25 to 34, one was 35 to 44, and three were 45 to 64. Six of the people who died were female, and seven were male.
As of Thursday, 7,791 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the county. Officials said they currently have enough tests for 1,206 more people. Since Wednesday, 520 people have been tested.
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do on Tuesday implored residents to stay at home as much as possible to stem the tide of the pandemic.
“Social distancing and isolation is no longer a debate,” Do said.
Stay-at-home orders in other countries have lessened the spread of the disease, Do said, adding that Orange County residents might not know for weeks or months how effective their efforts have been. “But we can do more than hope for the best,” he said.
Do noted he received multiple text messages and photos of large groups of people gathering last weekend in violation of the social-distancing recommendations.
“I have even heard of people hosting coronavirus parties,” Do said. “Stop it. … Don’t make play dates. Don’t go see your cousin. … Just don’t.”
Do pointed out that “Just because you don’t feel sick, doesn’t mean you’re not sick,” referring to the incubation period of the virus before symptoms flare up.
Calls for help have been flooding the county’s social services agencies, officials said at a news conference Thursday.
The county’s office on aging has received more than 2,000 calls, “roughly six times the usual call volume this week,” said Dylan Wright, director of OC Community Resources.
County officials plan to call 500,000 seniors this week to check in on them, Wright said. Frozen meals are being delivered twice a week instead of daily to help reduce the amount of contact, he added.
Wright encouraged residents to check in on their more elderly neighbors.
Debra Baetz, director of the county’s Social Services Agency, said the agency has seen a 65% increase in call volumes for various types of public aid. In the past two weeks the agency has received more than 12,000 applications for public assistance programs, “which is a drastic increase,” Baetz said.
On the issue of whether to wear a face mask, Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said local officials have recommended the sick and healthcare workers wear them. She discouraged residents from seeking out surgical masks or N95 masks, because there’s a shortage of them and “they are needed by our healthcare workers at this time.”
Instead, Quick recommended any sort of face covering because they can be effective in cutting down the spread of the virus.
Orange County Chief Executive Officer Frank Kim said in January that the county had 400,000 N95 masks, but they had expired. About 100,000 in the county’s stockpile had elastic bands and about 300,000 had fabric bands.
County officials “made a decision at the time to surplus the masks with elastic bands” because they were “deteriorating” and could no longer provide a safe and secure fit, Kim said. So the county ordered new masks and received 1.3 million of them, he added.
If the county had hung on to the 100,000 masks with elastic bands they would have had to open up each package and replace the rubber elastic on them all, Kim said.
County officials expect a surge of patients in the next week or two, Quick said.
Two new cases were reported in Orange County’s jails on Monday, bringing the total number of men who have tested positive for coronavirus in custody to five, according to Sheriff Don Barnes.
Between Friday and Monday, about 130 inmates were released early to make room in the jail for an expected surge in cases. Forty-three of those inmates were designated at-risk because of their age or health, and the rest had 10 days or less remaining on their sentences. Barnes said he would consider releasing inmates with up to 60 days remaining on their sentences if more beds were needed in the jails.
Another 162 inmates were released Tuesday, with 21 considered especially vulnerable because of age or health, sheriff’s Cmdr. Joe Balicki told the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
Since March 1, the jails are down 1,000 inmates, Balicki said. According to sheriff’s officials, that’s the lowest the jail population has been in more than a decade.
Ten inmates are in “medical isolation” because they have symptoms associated with COVID-19, Balicki said, and 193 are in quarantine because they came into contact with others who tested positive.
Several staff members have been sent home with flu-like symptoms, but have all tested negative for coronavirus, Balicki said.
Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit alleging a variety of issues in Orange County’s jails filed a motion in federal court Monday seeking to have more inmates released.
Officials with the city of Anaheim reported two employees at the homeless shelter run by the city and the Salvation Army tested positive for cornavirus on Monday, but none of the residents have tested positive so far.
Irvine has the most cases in the county with 65. Anaheim has 60 and Newport Beach has 48.
Other cities with the most cases include Huntington Beach with 44, Santa Ana with 40 and San Clemente with 31.
Orange County Public Health Director David Souleles said Tuesday there are enough hospital beds to handle patients because elective surgeries have been rescheduled, but that could change when an expected surge of patients happens.
State officials on Wednesday announced they would use the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, which was in the process of being shut down, as an overflow site for patients who do not have coronavirus to make room for beds in area hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.
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