SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County health officials have reported eight more COVID-19 fatalities to push the death toll up to 521, along with 767 additional coronavirus diagnoses.
The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in Orange County hospitals dipped slightly from 700 on Tuesday to 699 on Wednesday, and the number of patients in intensive care units dropped from 234 to 233.
The newest cases raise the cumulative total to 31,743 since the pandemic began, according to the county's Health Care Agency.
Of the deaths reported Wednesday, one was a skilled nursing facility resident. Of the total death toll, 235 were skilled nursing facility residents and 17 were assisted living facility residents.
The county has administered 374,114 coronavirus tests and documented 16,173 recoveries, the HCA reported.
Orange County is on the state's watch list for counties experiencing high rates of new cases and hospitalizations. It has shown some improvement, but with some continuing concerns.
The county's case rate per 100,000 residents jumped from 183.3 to 211.4, which is far higher than the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents. The rate of residents testing positive for COVID-19 inched up from 12.4% to 12.9%, which is higher than the state's desired rate of 8%.
The change in three-day average of hospitalized patients increased from -2.6% to 1.3%, but remains lower than the state's threshold of 10%.
The available ICU beds dropped from 39.4% to 32%, and the percent of ventilators available dipped from 64% to 63%. The state's threshold is 20% of ICU beds available to handle a surge and 25% ventilators on hand.
As of Monday in the county's jails, 439 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, with 396 having recovered and 43 in medical isolation being treated for symptoms. The county is awaiting the results of 141 tests.
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, the vice chairman of the board of supervisors, has started a campaign to encourage residents to use face coverings. Do's #MaskUpOC campaign will use social media to promote face coverings as a way to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Do was an early adopter of face coverings at a time when public health officials discouraged the use of them because they feared a run on medical masks needed for health professionals. Do promoted the face coverings in April when he authored the county's first mask ordinance requiring them in pharmacies and food-related businesses.
Since then, vocal opponents of mask use have criticized county officials at board meetings with some even staging a protest outside the home of the former county health officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, who abruptly resigned in response to threats over the issue.
Do said he finds wide compliance in north and central Orange County with the state's requirement for masks indoors at businesses and outdoors when residents cannot safely distance themselves at least six feet from others.
“I think people in south county tend to see the face mask issue as a political one,'' Do said. “I think when we see reactions to issues that have been on the forefront in the county -- whether it is the homeless or mental health or COVID-19 -- north and central county residents tend to be more empathetic.''
Do said health experts have said that face coverings “will be the reality for us for the next two to six months. It's not going to end anytime soon so this is why it's important to engage in this kind of conversation.''
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