Orange County reported 53 total cases of coronavirus Thursday, up from 42 on Wednesday.

Of the cases, 25 were contracted by residents while traveling, seven from person-to-person spread and 19 were “community acquired,” according to Orange County Public Health. Two are under investigation as to how the patients were stricken.

Thirty-three are men, 20 are women. Twenty-six fall into the age range of 18 to 49; 17 are 50 to 64 years old; and 10 are 65 and older.

There have been 589 people tested, leaving county officials with enough tests for 942 people.

“Several days ago it was 29, yesterday it was 42, and today it is at 53, so our count is increasing and that is alarming to the county,” Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said.

The county is expecting more test kits and officials are talking to major health care providers in the area about setting up more drive-through specimen collection points where residents can begin the testing process.

Orange County officials on Wednesday scrambled to revise an order issued the previous day by County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick. The order prohibited “all public and private gatherings of any number of people, including at places of work, occurring outside a single household or living unit,” except if the groups were involved in “essential activities,” which included government agencies and those who “provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

The order confused many merchants, who weren’t sure whether all businesses were ordered closed.

The amended order emphasized a ban on dining in at restaurants and bars, and movie theaters, health clubs and gyms were told to close their doors. Restaurants may stay open for pickup and delivery services.

The order does not prohibit school classes, but most schools have voluntarily closed or have moved to online-only learning.

The order “does not apply to essential public transportation, airport travel, shopping at a store, mall or farmers’ market, or charitable food pantries and distributions, or to congregate living situations, including dormitories and homeless encampments,” according to the amended order from Quick.

Seniors 65 and older or anyone with a serious chronic medical condition or compromised immune system are strongly encouraged to stay at home.

County CEO Frank Kim said it has been difficult to craft an order because there have been so many shifting definitions from the state and federal government on the acceptable number of people for any gathering.

Kim said county officials want to encourage people to follow the 6-foot distance guideline, so if a gathering is too big to keep people six feet away from each other it should not be halted, he said.

“It’s not my place to comment on what the private sector should do,” Kim said.

County officials want to protect the public’s health, but they are also concerned about the economy, Kim said.

“Our economic vitality is important,” Kim said. “Our economic vitality is one of the factors that makes Orange County a wonderful place to live and to work so it’s important for us to hang on to that economic engine at a very difficult time.”

Although Northern Californians are being advised to mostly stay at home, Orange County is not yet there, Kim said.

“Obviously, we’re paying very close attention to the spread of the disease in the county to protect the public, and, depending on what occurs, we’ll have a thoughtful and informed discussion with our health officer,” Kim said.

“At this time there is no plan to take a more aggressive action…. There is no intent today to take such dramatic actions (as quarantine) in the near future unless conditions worsen significantly.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *