OC Reports 886 New COVID-19 Cases, But the Death Toll was Lowered by Two

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Hospitalization rates continued to trend downward today in Orange County, which reported 886 new COVID-19 diagnoses that officials said was the result in part of a backlog of cases.

The Orange Counth Health Care Agency also lowered the death toll by two after discovering duplicates, bringing it down to 724.

The cumulative caseload now stands at 40,527.

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the large number of coronavirus cases reported Monday is a reflection of the state fixing its glitch in its reporting system and a backlog of cases coming to light.

“You're going to see some spikes (in coronavirus cases), but it's not necessarily that our cases are spiking, just the reporting of them are,'' she said. “I don't want the public to get alarmed when they see this spike in numbers. They've had to go back and reconcile some things in the (state) system.''

Hospitalization rates continued to trend in the right direction, and those numbers are not affected by the reporting problems. The number of people hospitalized dropped from 487 Sunday to 468, according to the HCA, with the number of patients in intensive care units  dipping from 163 to 152.

The rate of residents testing positive for COVID-19 in the county inched down from 7.7% to 7.4%. The state's desired threshold is 8%. Its case rate per 100,000 residents decreased from 90 to 82.1, but is far higher than the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.

The change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from -6.5% to -7.5%, which is much lower than the state's threshold.

The state's mandate to close in-restaurant dining and bars and require face coverings in public have helped, Bartlett said.

“When the governor came out with the state mandate for face coverings and the counties were required to follow through, I believe that could have potentially had a positive effect,'' Bartlett said. “But it's a combination of things -- people getting better at social distancing and we've kept very steady to no mass gatherings.''

The county reported that 484,803 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 10,659 reported Monday. There have been 30,657 documented recoveries.

Of the county's total death toll, 284 were skilled nursing facility residents, 38 were assisted living facility residents and one was homeless.

A new coronavirus statistics site has been launched that compares five counties statewide, according to UC Irvine.

The site features bar graphs of data since April 30 showing statistics from Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Santa Clara counties. The UCI scientists chose those five counties to reflect two counties struggling with the most cases -- Orange and Los Angeles -- and Alameda and Santa Clara in Northern California, which have been doing better, said Suellen Hopfer, an assistant professor of public health at UCI.

The five were “picked for the contrast'' and the scientists did not want to “overwhelm people with too much information in one graph,'' according to Hopfer, who noted the graphs show Orange County following a similar trajectory to Los Angeles County.

“We do see things got worse in June and July after the lockdown was relaxed,'' Hopfer said. “But it is leveling off, which is good. However, the deaths are trending upward, which is not great.''

Orange County CEO Frank Kim said the most apt comparison to his county is San Diego County in terms of population and density.

Kim noted that Orange County is one of the few statewide that breaks down numbers of skilled nursing facility deaths.

“Others don't provide that level of granularity,'' he said.

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

Since the pandemic began, there have been 382 children up to age 3 who have been infected; 500 in the 4-to-9-year-old age group; 383 from 10 to 12 years old; 365 among 13- to 14-year-olds; and 1,332 in the 15- to 18-year-old age group.

Many elementary schools are preparing applications for waivers from the county and state that would allow for in-person classroom teaching up to the sixth-grade level. The state has mandated that schools in counties on the watch list must employ distance learning until they get off the watch list.

About 80 Orange County schools, most of them charter and private schools, have expressed interest in obtaining waivers, Chau told reporters on Friday afternoon. He also said discussion has perked up among educators and state and county officials regarding holding classes outdoors.

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