Orange County Reports 11 More Coronavirus Deaths, 873 New Cases

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County health officials today reported 11 COVID-19 fatalities and 873 additional coronavirus infections, raising the death toll to 466 and the cumulative case total to 27,904.

The county has recorded 45 COVID-19 fatalities since Sunday. Last week, the county reported 58 coronavirus fatalities.

The number of hospitalized patients dropped from 722 to 711, but the number of patients in intensive care inched up from 238 to 245.

Of the 11 fatalities reported on Thursday, six were skilled nursing facility residents, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Of the total death toll, 222 were skilled nursing facility residents and 16 were assisted living facility residents.

Of the nearly 28,000 cases of coronavirus in the county, 1,412 were skilled nursing home facility residents.

The county has administered 334,011 coronavirus tests and documented 12,264 recoveries.

Orange County is on the state's watch list for counties experiencing high rates of new cases and hospitalizations. It has shown some improvement, with some continuing concerns.

The county's case rate per 100,000 residents increased from 242.9 on Wednesday to 247.8, higher than the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.

The rate of residents testing positive for COVID-19 dipped from 14.1% to 14%, but is still much higher than the state's desired rate of 8%.

The three-day average of hospitalized patients jumped from 4.5% Wednesday to 6.2%, but it is still lower than the state's threshold of 10%.

Also, the county has 36.5% of its intensive care unit beds available, more than the state's threshold of at least 20% to handle a surge. The county also has 64% of its ventilators available, more than double the 25% minimum expected by the state.

In the county's jails, 434 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, with 391 having recovered and 43 in medical isolation being treated for symptoms. The county is awaiting the results of 38 tests.

Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Health Care Agency and the county's interim chief health officer, again distanced himself from an Orange County Board of Education “white paper'' recommending a return to school for students without masks or social distancing enforced. The board voted 4-1 Monday to adopt the plan.

Chau reiterated, as he did earlier this week, he was invited to take part in a panel discussion with other experts, including Supervisor Don Wagner, but that he had nothing to do with writing the white paper.

Wagner also said he had nothing to do with the report either.

“We did not write, edit or even review the white paper,'' Chau said.

Chau said Gov. Gavin Newsom was expected to  make an announcement on back-to-school guidelines, which could be more strict for counties like Orange on the watch list.

“Everyone is anxiously waiting for what that is,'' Chau said of the governor's expected announcement.

Chau said it “makes a lot of sense'' for school officials to consider holding classes outdoors while the weather remains moderate.

“I suspect the state will discuss a hybrid model, not only in person and online, but also in person and outside,'' Chau said. “As we move into the latter months of the year when the weather changes, that will be an issue we'll have to tackle.''

On Wednesday, a drive-thru testing site for residents opened at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is meant to ease some of the county's testing needs. About 100 people passed through the site Wednesday morning. The county hopes to reach 1,200 daily tests within two weeks.

Additionally, Rite Aid expanded its COVID-19 testing capacity by opening nearly 100 sites today across California, including Orange County locations are in Anaheim, La Habra, Costa Mesa and Mission Viejo.

Photo: Getty Images

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