SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County health officials reported 413 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 today, by far the county's highest single-day total since the pandemic began.
The Orange County Health Care Agency also reported 10 additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 9,988 cases and 267 fatalities.
The numbers come at the end of what county officials called their deadliest week yet, with 55 COVID-19 deaths reported between June 13-19. The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus dipped from 336 to 321, with the number of patients in intensive care dropping from 142 to 135.
On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health 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.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement he would not make any efforts to enforce the mandate.
“It is each person's responsibility to wear a face covering and follow other recommended safeguards, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Barnes said. “It is not law enforcement's responsibility to enforce it.”
Barnes said he expects residents to “continue to use common sense approaches for the benefit of their own health, as well as the collective health of other county residents.”
“We must do what is necessary to stop the transmission of COVID-19, enabling us to further open remaining businesses, places of recreation and the hospitality industry,” Barnes said.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the Health Care Agency director and interim chief health officer, who rolled back a previous county mandate for facial coverings, said recent research shows they are effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“The mask is to protect others, to protect your neighbors,” Chau said. “And from a public health point of view, we want to protect our neighbors.”
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.
The county has reported 4,591 documented recoveries. Santa Ana leads all county cities with 2,116 cases, followed by Anaheim with 1,924. Their high numbers are attributed to large populations and the presence of multiple nursing homes in both cities. Santa Ana and Anaheim are Orange County's two largest cities in population.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department reported Friday that 389 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 383 having recovered and six currently showing symptoms. Sheriff's officials are awaiting results of 29 tests.
Sheriff's officials say active COVID-19 positive cases in the jails have gone down by 97% in the past month. The height was 220 cases on May 11 to just six cases on Friday.
The six infected inmates were newly booked and identified through a process of quarantining all new bookings, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
"There have been no infections among the jail system over the past 28 days," Braun said.
The first case was diagnosed on March 24. Most of the inmates who tested positive were asymptomatic and just two needed to be hospitalized and have since recovered, Braun said.