SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County Chief Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau said he is “optimistically confident” that the county will remain off the state’s COVID-19 watch list, even as the number of cases and deaths in the county continues to rise.
The O.C. Health Care Agency reported seven additional coronavirus-related deaths and 448 new cases on Wednesday. The new numbers bring the county’s totals to 47,090 cases and 918 fatalities since the pandemic began.
Orange County was removed from the state’s watch list on Sunday. The state mandates that a county stay off the list for 15 days before schools can reopen. However, supervisor Lisa Bartlett said that being off the watch list does not mean that more businesses — such as personal services, shopping malls, restaurants, and bars — will reopen for indoor services.
“I think it’s important to clarify what that means, because a lot of individuals and businesses think that once we get through this 14-day wait period that we can open everything up again,” she said.
Chau said the only sector that will be able to reopen after the waiting period is schools, but he is “hopeful” that the state will issue new guidelines to soon reopen more businesses.
“There’s a conversation between the state health officer and all the other county health officers on how do we reopen the other business sectors safely,” he said.
The county’s data on key metrics has been moving in the right direction. The positivity rate for the county is at 5.2%, which is below the state’s threshold of 8%.
Hospitalizations went up from 385 to 199 on Wednesday, but the number of patients in the ICU remained at 113.
The case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 83.3 to 80.7, which is still much higher than the state’s threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.
The county has 28% of ICU beds available and 58% of ventilators available — both above state requirements.
The O.C. Health Care Agency said that 611,144 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far, including 5,649 on Wednesday. There have been 39,129 documented recoveries.
Chau noted that while overall the county is doing well enough to get off the state’s watch list, there are still some ZIP codes that have positivity rates as high as 17% to 21%.
Of the deaths reported Wednesday, four were skilled nursing facility residents and three lived in assisted living facilities. Total, 351 skilled nursing facility residents and 59 assisted living facility residents have died from coronavirus-related complications.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)