Seven more people have succumbed to COVID-19 in Orange County, hiking the death toll to 918, and officials also reported 448 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday, raising the cumulative total to 47,090.
Of the deaths reported Wednesday, four were skilled nursing facility residents and three lived in assisted living facilities.
Of the total death toll, 351 were skilled nursing facility residents and 59 lived in assisted living facilities.
The county reported 912 deaths on Tuesday, but it was later determined one of the fatalities lived outside of Orange County, so the death toll was knocked down to 911 before the seven reported on Wednesday.
The county’s data on hospitalizations and other key metrics have been moving in the right direction, with the rate of county residents testing positive for COVID-19 at 5.2%, below the state’s desired threshold of 8%.
Hospitalizations went up from 385 to 399 on Wednesday, with the number of intensive care unit patients remaining at 113.
The county’s case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 83.3 to 80.7, which is still far higher than the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.
The county has 28% of intensive care unit beds available, which is better than the state’s 20% threshold. And the county’s hospitals have 58% of their ventilators available, well above the state standard of 25%.
The change in three-day average of hospitalized patients stands at 0.3%, much lower than the 10% state standard.
The OCHCA reported that 611,144 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 5,649 reported on Wednesday. There have been 39,129 documented recoveries.
A new “super site” for COVID-19 testing like the one at Anaheim Convention Center opened Wednesday at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
There is no out-of-pocket cost for a test as insurance will cover some and the county will pay for those uninsured.
Officials will prioritize testing for people with symptoms, people have come into contact with an infected person, healthcare workers, first responders, anyone who lives or works in high-density housing, and workers in essential businesses such as grocery stores and teachers.
Results will be available in one to two days. Anyone wishing to schedule a test should make a reservation through occovid.19.ochealthinfo.com/supersite.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer and director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that he was “optimistically confident” that the county will remain off the state’s watch list.
Orange County was removed from the list Sunday. The state mandates a county must be off the list for 15 days before all schools can reopen.
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said coming off the state’s watch list does not mean the state will also reopen various businesses for indoor commerce such as personal services, shopping malls, restaurants and bars.
“I think it’s important to clarify what that means, because a lot of individuals and businesses think that once we get through this 14-day wait period that we can open everything up again,” she said.
“The only sector that can reopen is the schools,” Chau replied.
But Chau said he is “hopeful” the state will issue new guidelines soon to reopen some of the closed businesses.
“There’s a conversation between the state health officer and all the other county health officers on how do we reopen the other business sectors safely,” he said.
The decision to reopen schools will be left up to each of the county’s school districts.
Chau noted that while overall the county is doing well enough to get off the state’s watch list, there are still some ZIP codes that have positivity rates as high as 17% to 21%.
Orange County could be placed back on the watch 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.