Orange County Reports 248 New Cases of COVID-19, 12 more deaths


SANTA ANA (CNS) - The Orange County Health Care Agency says a dozen more people have succumbed to COVID-19, bringing the cumulative death toll to 233, with 59 coming over the past week and a half.

The county also reported 248 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 8,999. Of the total fatalities, 117 were residents of skilled nursing home facilities.

As of Monday, the latest data available, the county reported 1,047 residents of nursing homes have tested positive for coronavirus and 565 staffers have been infected. There have been outbreaks in 28 skilled nursing facilities, nine assisted living facilities and two care homes. An outbreak is defined as at least two coronavirus cases.

The county's hospitals have 300 patients with COVID-19, with 137 in intensive care. That's down from 315 and 144 on Monday.

One of those patients includes Anaheim Fire Capt. Dave Baker, who was admitted to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on June 7, according to his wife. He remained in intensive care, Anaheim Fire & Rescue spokesman Shane Carringer said.

Another firefighter who was in intensive care is out of the unit, but remains hospitalized and is “showing improvement,'' Carringer said.

The county has reported 4,185 documented recoveries.

Santa Ana leads all county cities with 1,939 cases, followed by Anaheim with 1,710. Their high numbers are attributed to their large populations and the presence of multiple nursing homes in both cities.

An outbreak at an Anaheim fire station that officials declined to identify has sickened seven firefighters who have contracted COVID-19 since May 27, city spokesman Mike Lyster said. Three have recovered and returned to work, and two are recovering at home, but two others are hospitalized, including one who is in intensive care on a ventilator, Lyster said.

Baker, who remains in intensive care, was the model for a painting Disneyland created with Mickey Mouse to show appreciation to the city's firefighters in 1993. The painting hangs in the Anaheim Fire & Rescue Department's offices.

Apart from the two hospitalized firefighters, two are at home with mild symptoms and three have returned to work, Fire Chief Pat Russell said in a statement.

“One of the greatest strengths of this organization is how we rally to help our members in need,'' Russell said. “As with all challenging situations that we are all forced to endure, we will continue to lift each other up, support each other, and take care of one another.''

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Anaheim officials have not traced which call infected the first firefighter, Lyster said. But officials also have not ruled out that the infections could have come from multiple sources, he said.

It is the first time any of the city's 211 firefighters and paramedics have fallen ill to the coronavirus, Lyster said. The city has heightened sanitizing practices, with hospital-grade cleanings of its stations and first-responders are all equipped with personal protective equipment, but the infections show the challenge of avoiding the highly contagious disease, he said.

“All the protocols are in place, and it's a very high standard,'' Lyster said. “It's just the reality of a first responder, who can still be at risk of exposure.''

The Orange County Sheriff's Department reported Tuesday that 387 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 380 having recovered and five currently showing symptoms. Sheriff's officials are awaiting results of 46 tests.

With more sectors of the economy authorized to begin reopening, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said last week that the county has “reason to be positive about where we are'' in terms of coronavirus statistics when compared to neighboring counties and the state.

In addition to bars, gyms and theaters, community pools, schools, day camps, museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, wineries and family entertainment centers received permission last week to reopen in Orange County.

On Friday, the state authorized the reopening of nail salons on June 19. Workers and customers will be required to wear face coverings, according to the state guidelines.

On Thursday, Dr. Clayton Chau -- the HCA's director who was appointed as the county's chief health officer following the abrupt resignation of Dr. Nichole Quick at the start of last week -- modified the county's previous mandate requiring people to wear face coverings in public. He made it a “strong recommendation'' instead.

Photo: Getty Images


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