Orange County reports 113 new coronavirus cases

Orange County health officials Monday reported 113 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county's cumulative total to 7,527, but the number of deaths remained unchanged at 177.

The number of hospitalized patients dipped from 297 on Sunday to 291, with the number in intensive care rising from 129 to 135, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Health officials say 85 of the deaths in the county involved residents of skilled nursing home facilities.

The number of people tested for the virus in the county stands at 161,547, with 3,326 documented recoveries.

Men account for 51% of the county's COVID-19 cases and 56% of its deaths.

Santa Ana leads all county cities with 1,488 cases, followed by Anaheim with 1,331. Many of the cases in both cities are tied to long-term nursing care facilities.

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The HCA has reported outbreaks at 26 skilled nursing homes, three assisted living facilities and two care homes. An outbreak is defined as having at least two coronavirus cases.

As of Friday, 893 residents of skilled nursing home facilities had contracted COVID-19 and 442 staffers had tested positive for coronavirus. Also, as of Friday, 381 inmates in Orange County's jails had tested positive for COVID-19 with 367 having recovered and 14 in medical isolation with symptoms.

HCA Assistant Director Lilly Simmering said Thursday the agency is boosting testing capacity in institutional settings and is "increasing the number of staff working at skilled nursing home facilities."

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The agency also continues to work with UC Irvine on a "training curriculum" with skilled nursing home facility staff "to ensure that their facilities are hygienic and doing proper precautions for COVID-19," she said.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim told reporters Thursday that officials are concerned that widespread protests against police brutality will boost coronavirus cases.

"We're always concerned when we see a large group gathering," Kim said.

Officials respect the rights of protesters to speak out, but implore the activists to follow social distancing guidelines of keeping six feet apart and wearing face coverings, Kim said.

Simmering echoed the importance of face coverings. She said county officials appreciate the objections of some residents, but the practice has helped stem the spread of coronavirus in other countries.

"It is not for your individual protection," Simmering said. "It is to protect others... from potentially contracting COVID-19 if you do not know you have it."

If the county's hospitalization rates improve, then county officials will consider lifting the requirement, Simmering said.

The county's chief health officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, was "coming from a perspective of the medicine and the science" of masks as a preventive measure when she handed down the order, Simmering said.

Quick told the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday that there has been a rise in "community transmission" of the coronavirus since stay-at-home orders have been relaxed, and hospitalization rates "have been trending up."