By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County reported another 213 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as well as 11 new fatalities.

Daily case counts are still on the rise in the county this week, despite officials’ best efforts to keep a lower average. The county’s death toll is now at 1,434 and the cumulative total of diagnoses is at 57,848.

The number of hospitalizations went down from 174 on Wednesday to 168 on Thursday. The number of patients in ICU dropped from 66 to 56.

At Thursday’s weekly news conference on the county’s response to the disease, Dr. Matthew Zahn, the medical director of the county’s communicable disease control division, said that while coronavirus is particularly risky for people with underlying health conditions and the elderly, “We have certainly seen significant illness and death in younger populations.”

One of the deaths reported on Wednesday was a person in the 18 to 24 age group, officials said.

Young adults should also be aware that, “You can spread to other people, to loved ones around them, who are particularly at risk,” Zahn said. “And they’re at risk themselves. This is not the flu. This virus remains
difficult and is a significant risk for any age group.”

On Monday, O.C. Supervisor Don Wagner called for the state to allow youth sports competitions to resume.

Youth sports competitions make it difficult to enforce social and physical distancing, Zahn said.

“The larger group you have the less social distancing that occurs and that poses a risk of a cluster of cases,” Zahn said.

Officials also discussed schools, which have been open for several weeks with no major outbreaks.

Dr. Margaret Bredehoft, deputy agency director of public health services, announced a new program by the county and the O.C. Department of Education to staff a team of school nurses who would be available to parents evenings during the week and on the weekends.

The nurses will help with preparing parents to quarantine infected students and provide other guidance to school officials on disinfecting classrooms.

Bredehoft also announced a campaign encouraging mask usage among students. Students from elementary through high school grades may participate in a contest of essays, videos or art promoting face coverings to curb the spread of coronavirus to help win technology grants for their school.

The county’s case positivity rate is at 3.2%, and the daily case rate per 100,000 residents is at 4.6.

Zahn urged residents to remain vigilant in their safety precautions, reminding them that a second wave of the virus is possible but not inevitable.

“But there’s no reason this has to happen,” Zahn said of a second wave. “We need to be vigilant and do the right things.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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