Orange County’s confirmed coronavirus cases jumped from 187 on Wednesday to 256 Thursday, but no additional deaths were reported by local health officials.
The county’s first and so far only fatality was reported on Tuesday and involved a 75-year-old man who was hospitalized March 17 and died two days later. Doctors tested him for COVID-19 while treating him, but the test results were not received by Orange County officials until Tuesday.
Of the 256 cases reported so far, 71 cases involved residents who contracted the virus through traveling; 25 by person-to-person spread; and 71 were “community acquired,” according to Orange County Public Health officials. Eighty-nine are under investigation as to how the patients were infected.
The male-female ratio is 152 to 104. The hardest-hit age range is 18 to 49, with 140 cases; 76 cases involved individuals 50 to 64 years old; and 39 patients are 65 and older. One is a child.
As of Thursday, 3,605 people had been tested, leaving county officials with enough tests for 1,239 people.
On Friday, Orange County officials plan to begin providing more details on coronavirus cases, including the numbers from each of the county’s cities.
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, is among those awaiting test results. The first-term congresswoman announced in a Twitter post on Wednesday that she developed “cold-like symptoms” last week, called her doctor and was tested for COVID-19.
Porter, who posted a photo of herself wearing a surgical mask, said she would remain quarantined until she’s given the clearance by her doctor to leave the house.
“I am participating by telephone in congressional business and listening to the concerns of our Orange County community,” Porter wrote, adding that her children are so far healthy and “handling things well.”
Santiago Canyon College in Orange was closed Thursday because a part-time employee has tested positive for COVID-19, and another local community college district reported that one of its students returned from a study-abroad program with the virus.
Rancho Santiago Community College District officials said they were notified Wednesday that the Santiago Canyon College employee tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said that “in an abundance of caution,” the campus was closed to all employees, and will remain closed on Friday. Only security guards will be on campus patrolling the perimeter.
The college district’s online learning will not be interrupted.
North Orange County Community College District officials said they learned on Wednesday that a student who recently returned from a program in London reported testing positive for coronavirus. The student has been in self-quarantine since returning home and has not been on either of the district’s campuses: Fullerton College and Cypress College.
At the Men’s Central Jail in Santa Ana, Orange County sheriff’s deputies are closely monitoring all of the inmates, guards and other personnel who came into contact with a prisoner who tested positive on Tuesday for coronavirus, the first inmate stricken with the disease in the county.
The man, who is in his 40s, began exhibiting “moderate symptoms” on Tuesday morning and was placed in isolation, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. The inmate has not required hospitalization.
Sheriff’s officials have an electronic-card system that can trace the inmate’s movements so they can see who he has been in contact with, said department spokeswoman Carrie Braun, who said six inmates are awaiting test results and are in isolation.
The inmate who tested positive was booked on June 17, 2018, on suspicion of child endangerment, torture, false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon, Braun said. He was last in court on his case March 9.
Test results of eight other inmates recently came back negative, Braun said.
Barnes announced on March 13 that he would shut down visitation at the jails. The sheriff said arrests were down 10%, about 500 below what the rate was two weeks ago.
On Wednesday, Tom Dominguez, the president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, wrote a letter to Barnes expressing concerns about protecting the members of his union.
Dominguez asked for about 1,500 masks in the department’s inventory to be given to deputies. He also asked for any other personal protection equipment available.
The union also wants to shut down any dormitory or barracks-style jail housing.
“These types of inmate housing locations consist of living conditions and movement requirements that force inmates to be in very close proximity to one another,” Dominguez wrote.
The union supports releasing non-violent offender inmates who have less than 30 days to serve on their sentence, Dominguez said.
Dominguez also called on sheriff’s officials to cut back on hot meals from two to one to discourage more congregating. He suggested more snacks throughout the day to make up the dropoff in sustenance.
Barnes said he shares the union’s concerns.
“I am working to ensure that sworn employees have the equipment and information they need,” the sheriff said. “With the pandemic, (personal protective equipment) is in demand in every area of our department. I agree with AOCDS that the safety of personnel is a priority, and will be issuing PPE to all custody staff. The department is also taking steps to manage the current jail population. Social distancing is very challenging to achieve in a custody setting. I have spoken with AOCDS and will be taking their considerations into account while making difficult decisions during this unprecedented time.”
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