Orange County Reports 1,671 New COVID-19 Cases, 946 In Hospitals


SANTA ANA (CNS) - COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to jump up today in Orange County with 69 more patients since Monday's report for a new record of 946, including 235 in intensive care, which is just 10 short of a mid-July peak.

The Orange County Health Care Agency also reported 1,671 new diagnoses of coronavirus, hiking the cumulative up to 90,513. With no new fatalities, the death toll stood at 1,633.

The county has 13% of its ICU beds available, down from 18% on Monday, and 53% of its ventilators, the same as the day before. The last time the county's intensive care unit beds were that full was on July 22 when there were 233 patients.

The 11-county Southern California region's available ICU capacity shrunk to 10.1%.

Orange County's adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 rose on Tuesday to 30.3, up from 22.2 last week with the positivity rate going up from 8.8% to 10.6%.

The county's Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures the cases in highly affected, needier parts of the county, rose from 13% last week to 16.2% this week.

All of the county's metrics now fall within the state's most-restrictive purple tier of the four-tier coronavirus monitoring system.

The county reported 15 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday. The county logged 41 deaths last week and 26 the week before.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus rose from 877 Monday to 946, and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care increased from 218 to 235.

The county is under a “regional stay-at-home'' order from the state, which was triggered when intensive-care unit bed availability fell below 15% last week.

The stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom will be in place for at least three weeks and bans gatherings of people from different households. Regions will be eligible to exit from the order on Dec. 28 if ICU capacity projections for the following month are above or equal to 15%.

Sixty-four residents signed up at Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting to comment on the stay-at-home order with most pleading with the county to ignore it.

Supervisor Andrew Do, the vice chairman of the board, said, “We plow the same field over and over and I still see the misperception in the community'' about the authority of the county when it comes to the state regulations. Do asked Dr. Clayton Chau, the county's chief health officer and director of the HCA, to reiterate the county's lack of control over the stay-at-home orders.

“I am the extension of the California Department of Public Health, so any guidance coming down from the California Department of Public Health I must follow,'' Chau told the board. “I can be stricter in terms of issuing guidance, but I cannot be more relaxed than the state.''

Supervisors Don Wagner and Lisa Bartlett have proposed a resolution asking the state for more local control over issuing COVID-19 regulations. Wagner, an outspoken critic of the governor's management of the pandemic, said the county board of supervisors cannot “ignore those orders'' from the governor.

Outgoing Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel, who was elected last month to Congress but has not yet resigned her county post, criticized the governor's order and asked Orange County CEO Frank Kim to issue a memo on the consequences of ignoring the stay-at-home regulations.

“All the businesses have been locked down, we cannot walk around and we cannot gather, what's the next step here?'' Steel asked Chau.

Chau told the supervisors that the county is expecting about 25,000 doses of the first round of vaccines to be doled out nationwide. If the vaccines are approved by the federal government this week, the county could receive its first portion by Dec. 15 to be administered to “critical health care workers,'' Chau said.

Vaccines for the general public are expected in the late spring or early summer, Chau said.

Do said the county's new home test kits have been made available to all residents. Previously, the saliva-based home test kits were first distributed to residents in Anaheim and Santa Ana, the county's hot spots for coronavirus.

“Now these test kits are available both online and in clinics,'' Do said.

A home test kit ordered from the county's HCA website by 1 p.m. will arrive by the following morning, Do said. Results will be given within a day or two, he said.

“As of yesterday, I was told we have already done more than 10,000 tests within two weeks of launching this program,'' Do said.

On Monday when the home test kits were made available countywide the county received more than 10,000 requests for one, Chau said.

The county received 18,025 test results on Tuesday, upping the cumulative to 1,590,041.

Under current health restrictions, the following businesses/recreational facilities were forced to close:

-- indoor and outdoor playgrounds;

-- indoor recreational facilities;

-- hair salons and barbershops;

-- personal care services;

-- museums, zoos, and aquariums;

-- movie theaters;

-- wineries;

-- bars, breweries and distilleries;

-- family entertainment centers;

-- cardrooms and satellite wagering;

-- live audience sports; and

-- amusement parks.

Schools with waivers are allowed to remain open, along with “critical infrastructure'' and retail stores, which are limited to 20% of capacity.

Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Hotels are allowed to open “for critical infrastructure support only,'' while churches are restricted to outdoor only services. Entertainment production -- including professional sports -- is allowed to continue without live audiences.

California has grouped its counties into five regions: the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento Region, Northern California, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The state's full stay-at-home order can be read at

Photo: Getty Images

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