SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County health officials reported 1,133 new coronavirus cases and 10 more deaths on Friday.
The new numbers bring the death toll to 412, with 49 fatalities this week alone. Total number of cases since the pandemic began sits at 22,650.
Of the deaths reported on Friday, three were residents at skilled nursing facilities and one was an assisted living facility resident. So far. 206 of the county’s deaths have been skilled nursing facility residents and 15 have been assisted living facility residents.
The number of hospitalized patients dropped from 691 to 672, and the number of patients in the ICU also dropped from 236 to 227.
“Our community has paid a heavy price” in the battle against COVID-19, Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said Thursday.
“We cannot become numb to these losses,” she said of the death toll.
She added that it was “heartbreaking” to see business owners and O.C. residents struggle economically amid the pandemic. In the past, Steel has questioned the effectiveness of face coverings and voted against an ordinance to require them in restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies. However, on Thursday, she encouraged residents to wear masks.
The recent rise in cases was expected as shutdown restrictions were relaxed, said O.C. CEO Frank Kim. He noted that there has been a significant rise in infections among young adults.
“One of the interesting or concerning dynamics we’ve seen in the positivity rate over the last several weeks is we’ve seen this ride in new infections in the younger population, 17 to 24 and 24 to 34,” Kim said.
Infections in those age groups has raced upward “dramatically faster” recently, Kim said.
While not necessarily requiring hospitalization at the same rate, he said “obviously, they have parents and uncles out in the community,” who are also getting sick.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the Orange County Health Care Agency director and interim public health officer, said “these trends are very concerning. We can expect it to impact our health care system and get worse in the coming weeks.”
The county’s hospitals are “actively preparing” for a surge of patients, and it could mean less beds for patients without the virus, Chau said.
Since the pandemic began, the county has performed 296,311 COVID-19 tests and have had 9,759 recoveries, according to county officials.
The rates of cases and hospitalizations have kept the county on California’s watch list, which will continue to prevent the county from reopening indoor dining at restaurants and bars, among other restrictions.
Due to the restrictions, some parts of Orange County — including Old Towne Orange — are shutting down streets to allow restaurants to offer open air dining.
The county’s case rate per 100,000 residents is up to 257.7, which is much higher than the state’s threshold of 25 per 100,000. The rate of positive testing has reached 14.7%, while the state’s threshold is at 8%.
However, the county’s available ICU beds increased to 39.1%, which is better than the state’s standard of 20%.
On Thursday, Steel addressed criticism of the county’s reporting of statistics.
“It is important to note this is not unique to Orange County and, in fact, other counties across the state face similar issues” in reporting statistics that are provided by the state, Steel said.
Each day, county officials sift through data from the state to remove redundancies and then must sort the information to provide breakdowns of how the virus is affecting various demographic groups and “it takes time to go through these steps,” she said.
Data continues to flow in during the day, “which can lead to further discrepancies,” she said.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)