SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Some Orange County residents are optimistic that the coronavirus isn’t breaking records in the county, but health experts warn that the numbers are still dangerously high and now is not the time to let their guard down.
“I think it’s awesome. I’m totally floored though, it’s like COVID is not even happening,” visitor Shana Fisk.READ MORE: 3-Alarm Blaze Rips Through Abandoned Covina School
Newport Beach was packed with partiers celebrating what they described as a feeling of normalcy on New Year’s night.
“I’m excited about it bc it feels a little bit normal for the first time in a long time,” visitor Mark Fisk said. “In a way, it’s just telling Newsom, you can make your rules but we are not going to go along. Everyone’s tired of it.”
Bars were packed throughout the O.C. and hundreds of people were out walking and biking.
Some locals have still been feeling concerned about the reality of COVID-19 and are avoiding large crowds.
“I think it’s a ground to be spreading this virus,” said Mistina Gonzales.READ MORE: Protests Continue Outside Sigma Nu House On USC's Fraternity Row As New Sexual Assault Allegations Emerge
“Everyone’s blurring a lot of lines and bending the rules for their own benefits,” another resident, Mikayla Murphy, said.
UCI epidemiologist, Dr. Andrew Noymer, says it may be a new year, but it’s still important to take coronavirus precautions.
“Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are now in the rearview mirror,” Dr. Noymer said. “As we saw with Thanksgiving, it can take a few weeks for cases to build.”
While Orange County didn’t break coronavirus hospitalization records on Thursday, the county did set another record for ICU beds — now almost 500.
“ICU beds is what predicts mortality. It takes a while like three weeks for the mortality numbers to appear, but we are still in a very serious situation in Orange County,” Dr. Noymer said.
The O.C. has just under 2,000 coronavirus deaths so far, and Dr. Noymer expects that number to reach 3,000 soon.MORE NEWS: Lawmaker Calls For Change On California Film Sets After Prop-Gun Shooting Death Of Halyna Hutchins By Alec Baldwin
“We’ve absolutely seen a huge surge in cases in hospitalizations and ICUs. I expect these to result in a surge of deaths which may not be reported until February or even early March when we have the numbers,” Dr. Noymer said.