Orange County officials Thursday reported six more people have died from COVID-19 as they also reported 100 new coronavirus cases.
The total number of cases since the pandemic began is 5,744, with the death toll reaching 142. Officials say 59 of the fatalities were skilled nursing home residents.
As of Wednesday, 735 skilled nursing home residents have contracted COVID-19 in Orange County and 322 staffers have contracted the virus, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
There have been outbreaks — defined as two or more confirmed cases — in 22 skilled nursing homes, two assisted living facilities and two care homes.
There have been outbreaks at homeless shelters in Anaheim and Fullerton as well, said Orange County CEO Frank Kim.
The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus decreased from 274 to 255, with the number of patients in intensive care increasing from 101 to 105.
The number of people tested is 112,004.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department reported 375 inmates have tested positive for the virus, with 329 having recovered. Fifteen inmates are sick, and officials are awaiting test results for 112 inmates.
Kim told City News Service that his staff is considering a plan to again allow passive use such as sun bathing on the county’s beaches “because it’s impossible to enforce anyway.”
When the state approved a reopening of the county’s beaches, county officials in their application wrote in a clause that they could decide to allow passive uses on the beaches when they felt it was appropriate, Kim said.
The state is planning to open up parking at its beaches in the county and the county will follow suit for the beaches in its jurisdiction, Kim said.
Also Thursday, the county’s health officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, issued a modified health order that reflects the state’s reopening of hair and beauty salons as well as churches. Quick did not revise her order requiring masks whenever people cannot observe 6 feet of physical distance from others.
“The most common sense way of explaining it to Orange County residents is if you are out of your home interacting with people at your business, workplace or any public space and you cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing the order requires you to put on a mask,” Kim said at a news conference on Thursday.
Quick’s order requiring masks has spurred heated debate among Orange County supervisors and drew the ire of dozens of speakers at Tuesday’s board meeting. A group of protesters showed up at Quick’s home for several hours after the board meeting.
Kim said his office received many calls and emails from the public who support the mask order.
A day after the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to dole out $75 million in federal funding, Kim said that he and his staff were working hard to push the money out to cities as quickly as possible.
The county received $554 million from the federal government’s coronavirus relief bill, and plans to use $453 million of it on expenses such as overtime for staff responding to coronavirus emergencies, as well as public health and medical costs.
Last week, the board approved sending $26 million of the county’s share of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding to cities for direct expenses related to battling COVID-19. The supervisors had held off on plans to spend the remaining $75 million until Tuesday.
The board rejected a plan by Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel and Supervisor Don Wagner under which the money would be given to cities, and officials in the cities would decide which businesses would get grants.
Several mayors in the county had prodded the board to support Steel and Wagner’s plan.
“We’re pushing back on the governor on things like go slow to reopen the beaches, go slow to reopen the malls and his go slow to reopen the hair salons,” Wagner said. “This pressure on the governor is working… and the mayors are pushing back on us.”
Wagner maintained that the plan approved by the board — under which the money will be distributed evenly in each of the five supervisorial districts — would delay the allocation of money because an administrator will have to be hired to distribute grants to small businesses.
Supervisor Doug Chaffee said Steel and Wagner’s plan might see more funding going to other districts that have more small businesses.
“I don’t want my district shorted by some formula that has not been set forth,” Chaffee said.
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she wanted to “leverage” the money in her district through banking programs that would allow for more money to be available in the long run.
“The $75 million to each individual small business — it’s not a lifeline, except for a couple of days,” Bartlett said.
“You’re talking about $500 to $700 or something and that’s not going to sustain them for the long term. We have to get them through COVID-19. I want to sustain these businesses for the long term.”
Steel replied, “This is for short-term emergency support,” and said the hiring of an administrator to distribute the money would add “bureaucracy… and we’re just wasting money.”
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