SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County health officials announced today that five more people have succumbed to COVID-19, the largest reported jump in the death toll since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Orange County's death toll now stands at 50, with the number of confirmed cases increasing by 163 to total 2,537. But the number of hospitalized patients dipped from 190 on Thursday to 181, and the number of intensive care patients dropped from 63 to 61.
Health Care Agency officials said given the method used in reporting deaths, the number of fatalities announced by the county on a daily basis does not necessarily reflect the number of people who died in the last 24 hours.
The reported jump in deaths came as hundreds of protesters gathered in Huntington Beach to call on Gov. Gavin Newsom to lift his stay-at-home orders and his closure of the county's beaches.
The number of people in the county tested for the virus increased by 2,594 to a total of 34,128.
Of the county's total cases, 2%, or 50, involve people under 18 years old; 9%, or 225, are between 18-24; 18%, or 453, are between 25-34; 15%, or 376, are between 35-44; 19%, or 475, are between 45-54; 17%, or 427, are between 55-64; 10%, or 262, are between 65-74; 6%, or 160, are between 75-84; and 4%, or 108, are 85 and older.
Men make up 54% of the county's cases and 60% of its fatalities.
Of the patients who died, 4% were 25 to 34 years old, 6% were 35 to 44, 10%, were 45-54, 14% were 55-64, 10% were 65-74, 36% were 75-84, and 20% were 85 or older.
Whites account for 30% of the fatalities, as well as Latinos (30%), and followed by Asians (26%). According to the HCA, 6% were black, 2% were native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2% were unknown, and 4% fall into the category of “other.”
Santa Ana's case count leapfrogged from 366 to 430, leading the county, followed by Anaheim with 364, Huntington Beach at 225, and Irvine at 133. The city of Orange hit triple digits with 100 cases on Friday. Those are the biggest cities in the county.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department reported 168 COVID-19 cases in the county jails as of Friday. The county is awaiting results of 20 tests. So far, 23 inmates have recovered.
The sheriff has administered 387 tests, with 199 coming back negative.
Despite restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus, crowds flocked to Orange County beaches last weekend as temperatures rose to summer- like levels, prompting Newsom's “hard closure” order Thursday.
The Huntington Beach and Dana Point city councils quickly voted to take legal action to resist the order, and on Friday afternoon, an Orange County Superior Court judge rejected a bid by those cities to have the temporary closure lifted.
There had been some speculation Newsom would order a statewide closure of beaches, but he focused just on Orange County, saying he wanted to “reward” the officials elsewhere in the state who have worked to keep large crowds away from the shoreline.
Unlike in neighboring Los Angeles County, the public was not strictly prohibited from spending time on the sand in Orange County last weekend, though county beach parking lots have been closed.
Laguna Hills officials, meanwhile, announced Thursday they were dropping their lawsuit seeking to block the county from using a state and federal program to house transients infected with COVID-19 at a hotel in the city.
The dismissal of the lawsuit came on the day officials were scheduled to argue for a preliminary injunction. Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Delaney on April 20 rejected the city's temporary restraining order request to block the use of the 76-bed Laguna Hills Inn at 23061 Avenida de la Carlota as part of Project Roomkey.
City officials said they decided to drop the lawsuit after receiving correspondence from Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and county CEO Frank Kim that offered “specific assurances” the hotel's usage would only be temporary. Officials were also assured about “security protocols and medical staffing.”
Kim said only one transient was staying at the hotel as of Thursday.
There are 139 transients housed in hotels as part of Project Roomkey in Orange County, officials said. Of those, 122 are considered at a high risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19 due to age or underlying health issues, and 17 are infected.
Officials were using the hotels to safely quarantine transients infected with the virus because they cannot properly socially distance in the county's shelters or while living on the streets.
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