OC Coronavirus Numbers Remain Stable


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SANTA ANA (CNS) - Coronavirus hospitalization rates remained stable in Orange County, and there were a reported 112 new COVID-19 infections over the past weekend, according to the latest data.

According to numbers released by the Orange County Health Care Agency, which has ceased reporting statistics on the weekends, hospitalizations remained at 54 on Monday, the same level as Friday, while the number of patients in intensive care decreased from 17 to 14.

The county logged four more fatalities.

The death toll for June is four; 21 in May; 41 in April; 198 in March; 608 in February; 1,554 in January, the deadliest month of the pandemic; and 966 in December, the next deadliest.

The latest confirmed infections brought the county's cumulative caseload to 255,922.

“It's kind of odd -- we worked so hard to get to the yellow tier and it goes away,'' Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee said Friday. “But our numbers are good.''

Chaffee noted it will be interesting to see the impact on the county's infection rates as large venues such as Disneyland and the Los Angeles Angels allow full-capacity crowds.

“We've got a good half of the county vaccinated or at least with one shot,'' Chaffee said.

As of last Wednesday, there were 1,676,071 fully vaccinated Orange County residents, which is roughly half of the population. Chaffee said about 85% of the county's senior citizens have been vaccinated.

The case rate in the county as of the middle of last week was 0.9 per 100,000 residents, and the overall positivity rate was 0.6%, according to Orange County CEO Frank Kim.

“Since the middle of May, the case rate has been 1.3 to 0.7, so it goes up or down one-tenth of a point day-to-day -- that's pretty consistent,'' Kim told City News Service on Wednesday. “Hopefully, we don't see a spike with the reopenings.''

County officials have been keeping an eye on Cal-OSHA and its workplace rules governing mask requirements among employees, Kim said. The state agency on Thursday adopted a plan that generally allows vaccinated workers to skip wearing a mask but requires that a face covering be worn by the unvaccinated.

Kim met for about an hour last Wednesday with department heads to go over the workplace rules and how to head off any harassment based on face coverings.

“It's important to note that if any employees, because of their own situation, may continue wearing a mask we need to protect those employees from harassment,'' he said. “Some people will want to be more cautious.''

Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, said Cal-OSHA could do a better job of explaining what it intends to do. But from an epidemiological perspective, he said, “It doesn't matter what people do (about masking) over the summer because the transmission is so low. What will matter is when the fall comes or when the Delta variant really takes off, whichever comes first and then all of a sudden it really matters again.''

Orange County Superior Court Presiding Judge Erick L. Larsh issued an order on Friday relaxing some restrictions at the county's courthouses, whichhave been closed to the public except for employees and residents with civil or criminal matters pending.

According to the order, which went into effect today, vaccinated visitors or employees do not have to wear a mask, but unvaccinated people will have to continue wearing a face covering. Court officials will not do anything to check anyone's vaccination status, instead relying on the honor system.

Court officials are also going to phase in more services available as they let the general public return to the courthouses. The YouTube channels that provide a virtual peek into the courtrooms will be phased out over time, but not right away.

While most of the state's COVID-19 restrictions were lifted at 12:01 last Tuesday morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom nonetheless warned the virus is still active -- and that mask-wearing will continue to be a reality for non-vaccinated residents, at businesses that opt to require them and for people who simply feel safer wearing them.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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