OC Reports First Death From Coronavirus

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County health officials today announced the county's first death from coronavirus, identified only as a man in his mid-70s.

The man, whose name was not released, was hospitalized March 17 and died two days later, officials said. Doctors tested him for COVID-19, but the test results were not received by Orange County officials until Tuesday.

Orange County's number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 27 on Tuesday, from 125 to 152.

Of the total, 53 were contracted by residents while traveling, 16 from person-to-person spread and 45 were ``community acquired,'' according to Orange County Public Health officials. Thirty-eight are under investigation as to how the patients were stricken.

Eighty-nine are men, 63 are women.

Eighty-seven fall into the age range of 18 to 49; 41 are 50 to 64 years old; and 23 are 65 and older. One is a child.

There have been 2,159 people tested, leaving county officials with enough tests for 1,390 people.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 40 deaths were reported across the state due to coronavirus. There are more than 2,100 COVID-19 cases in California.

Earlier Tuesday, Orange County CEO Frank Kim told Orange County supervisors that parking lots to all of the county's parks and beaches were being closed to discourage visitors who have not been complying with the state's social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 emergency.

The supervisors attempted to vote on the restrictions themselves after discussing the issue, as has been done in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, but there was concern about whether the board could do so right away while still complying with Brown Act regulations governing open meetings.

So the board left it up to Kim to make the change and restrict access to the parking lots. Last weekend, throngs of visitors flocked to the beaches and often ignored social distancing requirements to stay at least six feet away from other people.

As of Wednesday, parking lots at all county beaches, regional parks and wilderness parks will be closed, as well as parking spaces at all county trailheads. Kim's order also closes pedestrian access points at Thousand Steps, Table Rock, West, Camel Point and Treasure Island beaches.

The closure also applies to restrooms, playgrounds, exercise equipment and shelters at all county parks and beaches.

Residents may still have access to a walk through parks, cycling and equestrian activity.

County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she was receiving calls about ``packed'' bathrooms in the parks and beaches.

Dana Point has a number of restaurants and food services along its beaches, so Kim said he would work with OC Parks staff to ensure parking restrictions won't impede people trying to pick up food.

Some individual county beach cities are also grappling with the issue.

Huntington Beach has closed beach parking lots, Laguna Beach has closed its beaches and trailheads, Newport Beach has closed its beach parking lots and piers, San Clemente has closed its beach parking lots and pier and Seal Beach has closed its beaches, beach parking lots, pier, parks and biking trails.

Newport Beach City Council members are expected to address similar issues at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. In the meantime, Newport Beach officials closed all beachfront parking lots and piers in the city, according to public information officer John Pope.

On Monday, state parks officials announced they were taking steps to reduce crowds at the state's parks and beaches.

State parks officials are working with local county and public health officials to restrict vehicular traffic to some parks. Rangers are encouraging visitors to maintain six feet of distance to help reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus. If these efforts fail then state parks officials will consider fully closing some parks.

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