Orange County Reports 12 more COVID-19 Deaths, 150 New Cases

SANTA ANA (CNS) - A dozen more people in Orange County have succumbed to COVID-19, raising the death toll to 1,105, according to Orange County Health Care Agency officials.

The county also reported 150 new coronavirus diagnoses Tuesday, raising the cumulative total to 51,124.

Of the fatalities reported Tuesday, five were skilled nursing facility residents. Since the pandemic began, 418 of the fatalities lived in skilled nursing facilities and 75 resided in assisted living facilities.

Tuesday's 12 deaths followed two consecutive days in which the agency reported no fatalities. Last week, the OCHCA reported 42 COVID-19 fatalities. The week before saw 76 deaths reported.

Hospitalizations in the county ticked up from 193 on Monday to 201 Tuesday, with the number of intensive care unit patients increasing from 56 to 67.

The county's daily case count per 100,000 people fell from 5.2 last week to 4.7, and the seven-day rate of residents testing positive for the coronavirus dropped from 4.2% last week to 3.9%.

To move up from the red tier to the orange tier in the state's monitoring system, the county must have a daily new case rate per 100,000 of 1 to 3.9 and a positivity rate of 2 to 4.9%.

The county has 40% of its intensive care unit beds available and 63% of its ventilators available. The change in the 3-day average for hospitalized patients stands at -12.9%.

The OCHCA reported that 749,727 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 8,480 reported Tuesday. There have been 45,626 documented recoveries.

All schools will be allowed to reopen for in-class instruction next Tuesday, OCHCA Director Dr. Clayton Chau told the county's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

So far, the county has approved 140 elementary schools to reopen through the state's waiver process, Chau said.

Supervisors also approved a plan to set up drive-through flu vaccine clinics in each of the county's five districts to help stave off a potential “twindemic'' of the flu and COVID-19 this fall.

The board also approved a plan to expand testing to reach residents who are of Asian-Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and North African heritage.

“The Latino community remains the highest hot spot in the county, but the next highest is the API community as well as Middle Eastern and North African,'' Supervisor Andrew Do said. “This shows the board is very proactive in trying to address potential hot spots,'' Do said.

On Monday's six-month anniversary of the shutdown of large venues such as theme parks, Anaheim officials appealed publicly to the state for some kind of guidance on the reopening of Disneyland so they can better prepare. The state shutdown order of March 14 also affected the Anaheim Convention Center, the Honda Center and Angel Stadium.

Anaheim officials need “guidance on theme parks to reopen safely and responsibly when it is right,'' city spokesman Mike Lyster said. “We actually need a roadmap for recovery.''

The need to plan and prepare is more crucial now that case rates in the county and in hotspots like Anaheim are declining, Lyster said.

“We're seeing cases come down significantly in Anaheim, even in our most hardest-hit neighborhoods,'' he said.

The county's outreach to neighborhoods with the highest coronavirus cases has made a difference, Lyster said. City officials expect the county to meet the state's orange tier standards as of Tuesday, he said.

The city's unemployment rate has reached 15%, which is higher than the peak of 12% during the Great Recession a decade ago.

“That's 26,000 people in our city. That's a significant amount of people dislocated from their jobs,'' Lyster said, noting that Anaheim “is looking at a $100 million deficit.''

Compounding matters, many of the unemployed have had trouble getting unemployment benefits, Lyster said.

A planned reopening in mid-July was scrapped because of increased outbreaks stemming in part from the Fourth of July weekend. Lyster said city officials believe that Disney's management of the reopening of its Downtown Disney businesses area shows it can responsibly reopen with social distancing and enforcement of face coverings.

“It really is a model to go forward containing coronavirus and also allowing people to get back to work,'' Lyster said. “What's frustrating is beaches, zoos and parts of Sea World (in San Diego) are open. These are attractions that can draw tens of thousands of people. We want to see the same opportunity for theme parks.''

Orange County was upgraded from the purple to the red tier in California's coronavirus monitoring system last week. The move allowed for churches, theaters and other businesses to resume indoor operations, but with strict limits on capacity and other health measures in place.

Theaters, restaurants and churches are restricted to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums also were allowed to reopen indoor activities at 25% capacity. Shopping centers were given the green light to expand from 25% capacity to half-capacity under the red tier, while gyms were allowed to reopen at 10% capacity.

Photo: Getty Images

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