Orange County Reports 132 New Cases of COVID-19, Seven More Deaths


SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County Health Care Agency officials today reported seven more COVID-19 fatalities, raising the death toll to 250, with 33 this week.

Since June 5, 76 people have died from the disease caused by the coronavirus in Orange County.

The agency also reported 132 new cases Thursday, raising the cumulative total to 9,292. Of the total fatalities, 128 were residents of skilled nursing home facilities, up from 124 on Wednesday.

The hospitalization rate jumped from 328 on Wednesday to 345, with patients in intensive care rising from 131 to 144.

The state Department of Public Health on Thursday issued new guidelines mandating face coverings in most situations while indoors, but also outside when a person cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

There are exemptions that include children age 2 and younger because of the risk of suffocation, and for people with a variety of medical or psychological issues that make mask-wearing a hazard.

The Orange County Labor Federation held a news conference calling on the county to reinstate its face-covering mandate, which was rolled back last week to “strongly recommended.'' Westminster City Councilman Sergio Contreras, who is running for a board of supervisors seat, also called on the county to require masks.

As of Wednesday, the county reported that 1,105 patients in nursing homes had tested positive for COVID-19 and 611 employees were infected. There have been outbreaks in 29 skilled nursing facilities and 11 assisted living facilities.

An outbreak is defined as at least two coronavirus cases within the past two weeks.

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 in intensive care is now out of the unit but still hospitalized, Carringer said.

“Both are making slow, but positive improvements,'' he said.

The county has reported 4,496 documented recoveries.

Santa Ana leads all county cities with 1,994 cases, followed by Anaheim with 1,784. Their high numbers are attributed to 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, two are recovering at home, and 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.''

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 389 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 382 having recovered and five currently showing symptoms. Sheriff's officials are awaiting results of 27 tests.

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.

Photo: Getty Images

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