Orange County Reports 65 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 More Deaths

SANTA ANA (CNS) - The Orange County Health Care Agency has reported a dozen COVID-19 fatalities, raising the coronavirus death toll to 665.

The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in county hospitals dropped from 539 Tuesday to 536 Wednesday, while the number of patients in intensive care inched up from 167 to 172, according to the HCA.

The agency also reported 65 new diagnoses of coronavirus, hiking the cumulative case total to 38,131 since the pandemic began. But the low number is undoubtedly due to the state's recent glitch in reporting of positive tests from laboratories, said Orange County CEO Frank Kim.

“There's no way our numbers would drop that fast,'' Kim said. “Out of 5,000 new tests, that's incredibly low.''

Hospitalization statistics are more reliable because the hospitals use a different online software platform to report to the state, Kim noted. State officials have directed laboratories to send manual copies of test results as a backup until the software glitch is corrected, he said.

Sixteen deaths have been reported in Orange County since Sunday. The county logged 87 coronavirus deaths last week and 70 the week prior.

Of the fatalities reported Wednesday, three were skilled nursing facility residents and two were assisted living facility residents.

Of the county's total deaths, 274 were skilled nursing facility residents, 30 lived in assisted living facilities, and one was homeless.

Of the total cases, 1,728 were skilled nursing facility residents, 489 were jail inmates and 137 were homeless.

The county on Tuesday reported 65 jail inmates in medical isolation and 416 documented recoveries among 481 prisoners infected since the pandemic began. Officials are awaiting results of 94 tests.

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

The county's case rate per 100,000 residents decreased from 115 to 97.6, which is still 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 dipped from 8.6% to 8.1%, just above the state's desired rate of 8%. But those numbers may be deceiving given the issue with reporting statistics to the state.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from -4.8% to -3.7%, much lower than the state's threshold of 10% increase.

Available ICU beds are at 34%, and the percentage of available ventilators at 54%. The state's threshold is 20% of ICU beds available to handle a surge and 25% ventilators on hand.

The county reported that 444,757 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 5,075 logged on Wednesday. There have been 27,197 documented recoveries.

As local school officials prepare for classes to begin again, county officials are tabulating the number of coronavirus cases by various age groups.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 365 children up to age 3 who have been infected in the county; 463 in the 4-to-9-year-old age group; 365 from 10 to 12 years old; 342 among 13 to 14-year-olds; and 1,257 in the 15-to-18-year-old age group.

The state has released updated guidance for youth sports activities, allowing activities to resume, but with participants adhering to physical distancing and safety protocols. Participants must stay six feet from each other and activities must take place outdoors as much as possible.

Tournaments, events and games indoors that require close contact among participants are not allowed.

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