OC Health Officials Report Another 23 COVID-19 Deaths

SANTA ANA (CNS) - The Orange County Health Care Agency today reported 23 COVID-19 fatalities and 429 newly confirmed infections, raising the death toll to 856 and the cumulative caseload to 44,936.

Hospitalizations dropped from 419 to 400, and the number of patients in intensive care units declined from 124 to 118, according to the HCA.

Of the deaths reported Thursday, 11 were skilled nursing facility residents and one lived in an assisted living facility.

On Wednesday, the agency reported its first pediatric fatality – a teenage girl with significant underlying medical conditions.

Since the start of the pandemic, three people 18 to 24 years old have died of coronavirus complications in Orange County, but this was the first death of a person under 18. The girl's exact age and other details were not released.

Since Sunday, the HCA has reported 47 deaths. But there are sometimes delays in confirming deaths, so many of the fatalities date back to beyond a week or more. Since Sunday, five people have actually died of COVID-19 in Orange County.

The rate of county residents testing positive for COVID-19 decreased from 5.9% to 5.7%, below the state's desired threshold of 8%. And the change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from -3.9% to -3.3%, which is lower than the state's threshold.

The county's case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 98.6 to 96.6, which is still far higher than the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.

But because that number is under 100 and the positivity rate is below 8%, it appears the county will be taken off the state's watch list soon under newly outlined metrics, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Wednesday. Officials expect it could happen by Saturday, and if the county can stay off the list for 14 days, schools can reopen for in-class education.

The county has 32% of intensive care unit beds available, which is better than the state's 20% threshold. And the county's hospitals also have 58% of their ventilators available, well above the state standard of 25%.

The HCA reported that 571,931 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 6,545 reported Wednesday. There have been 36,596 documented recoveries.

As students are reporting back to school, Orange County officials are also keeping an eye on coronavirus cases among children. The state is allowing schools in grades up to sixth to apply for a waiver from all online learning.

As of Wednesday, 451 children up to 3 years old have tested positive for COVID-19; 621 4-9 years old; 477 between 10 and 12; 453 between 13 and 14; and 1,585 between 15 and 18.

The county submitted waivers to the state for 10 schools on Tuesday and they were approved by the state on Wednesday, Kim said.

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