SANTA ANA (CNS) - The total number of coronavirus cases in Orange County is up to 464 today after health officials reported 37 new ones.
No new deaths were reported, leaving the county's total at four. The first death, which was reported last Tuesday, involved a 75-year-old man who was hospitalized March 17 and died two days later. Two deaths were reported Friday and a fourth was reported Saturday, but no further information was released about those patients.
Two new cases were reported in Orange County's jails, Sheriff Don Barnes said. That brings the total number of men who have tested positive for coronavirus in custody to five, the sheriff said.
Since Friday, about 130 inmates were released early to make room in the jail for an expected surge in cases. Forty-three of those inmates were designated at risk because of their age or health, and the rest had 10 days or less to go on their sentence. Barnes said he would go up to 60 days left on a sentence to consider for early release if more beds are needed in the jails.
Since March 1, the jails are down 838 inmates, Barnes said.
On Friday, the inmate count was 4,580, and as of Monday there were 4,451 in custody.
“It's the lowest it's been in well over a decade,” Barnes said of the jail population.
Nine inmates are in “medical isolation” because they have symptoms associated with COVID-19, Barnes said. He said 149 are in “medical quarantine” because they came into contact with others who tested positive.
Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit alleging a variety of issues in Orange County's jails filed a motion in federal court on Monday seeking to have more inmates released.
“Plaintiffs request an order to release prisoners: those serving sentences for misdemeanors, or awaiting trial for misdemeanors, those held for probation of parole violations or for immigration, those with remaining actual custody time to release of less than six months, all these held on non-violent charges, and all other pretrial detainees who can post $10,000 bond,” the motion reads.
“In addition no person should be brought into the jail on a warrant, that is all outstanding warrants should be recalled, subject to re-issue, as appropriate, individually if needed,” the motion reads.
As of Monday, 5,522 people had been tested for COVID-19 in the county.
Of the total confirmed cases, 57% are men, 38% are between the ages of 45 and 64, 17% are between 35 and 44, 17% are between 25 and 34, 10% are between 18 and 24, and 18% are over 65. One person is a child whose gender and age were not specified.
Officials with the city of Anaheim, which has the most cases in the county at 42, released a statement Sunday cautioning the public that the cases “don't necessarily represent new spread of the virus in our community but rather detection of existing cases with more testing.”
“That is actually a good thing,” according to the statement. “Patients will be treated and isolated and they recover.”
Newport Beach has 41 cases.
Officials have said they have shifted policy on cities with populations of less than 25,000, such as Laguna Beach, and began releasing statistics on those cities.
Laguna Beach has 22 cases, La Palma has six cases, and Villa Park, Laguna Woods and Los Alamitos did not have a number of cases listed. Officials say the number for those cities will not be released until they record 5 or more cases.
Twenty-eight new diagnoses were reported by 1 p.m. Sunday. Eighty-five new cases were recorded on Saturday, and 70 on Friday.
County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said the county is “still far from meeting the need” for personal protection equipment for first responders and healthcare professionals.
Quick discouraged visiting senior citizens, who are most at risk from coronavirus, in retirement communities and nursing homes in the county.
She said the drum beat of news about the virus may be heightening anxiety, so she encouraged anyone who needs it to call the county's mental health hotline for help at 833-426-6411.
Orange County Public Health Director David Souleles said there are enough hospital beds to handle patients because elective surgeries have been rescheduled, but that could change when an expected surge of patients happens. It's possible the state may use the recently shuttered Fairview Developmental Center and the Orange County Fairgrounds, officials in Costa Mesa said. Last month, Costa Mesa officials vigorously resisted a plan to house COVID-19 patients from a cruise ship at Fairview.
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said the closing of parking lots for parks and beaches significantly reduced the congregating at parks and beaches this weekend compared with the previous weekend.
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