Orange County's COVID-19 death toll rises to 65

Orange County officials reported 131 more cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Wednesday, for countywide totals of 3,004 cases and 65 deaths.

Thirteen deaths from the disease have been reported in the last three days. The number of patients hospitalized with the virus dropped from 202 on Tuesday to 192 on Wednesday, with the number of patients in intensive care rising from 62 to 73.

The total number of people in the county tested for the virus increased to 40,707 with 941 tests reported Wednesday. Of the county's total cases, 2% involve people under 18 years old; 10%
are between 18-24; 18% are between 25-34; 15% are between 35-44; 18% are between 45-54; 16% are between 55-64; 10% are between 65-74; 6% are between 75- 84; and 4% are 85 and older.

Of the patients who died, 3% were 25 to 34 years old, 5% were 35 to 44, 8%, were 45-54, 12% were 55-64, 18% were 65-74, 29% were 75-84, and 25% were 85 or older.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department has heightened testing in the jails and now counts 241 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-March. As of Tuesday, 18 inmates are sick with the coronavirus, according to the sheriff's department, which is waiting results of 153 other tests of
asymptomatic quarantined inmates who came into contact with sick prisoners.

None of the inmates have died and one inmate is hospitalized, said Carrie Braun of the Sheriff's Department. Thirty-three inmates have recovered since testing began in March, she said. Three deputies who work at the jails have recovered, but two other sheriff's employees are still out sick, Braun said.

County officials this week began testing sheriff's deputies and Health Care Agency employees who work in the county's clinics. In the county's skilled nursing facilities, a total of 299 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with 18 dying of complications from the virus, according to the county, which also reported 162 staff workers at the facilities have tested positive and one has died.

One of the hardest-hit facilities is Anaheim Healthcare Center on Beach Boulevard, which has 50 patients afflicted with COVID-19, according to Anaheim officials. Four patients have died there, officials said. Twenty staff workers at Anaheim Healthcare have tested positive for coronavirus.

Another facility in Anaheim with an outbreak is Windsor Gardens Convalescent Center of Anaheim on Ball Road, which has 19 patients with COVID-19 and seven staff workers who have coronavirus, officials said.

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

Orange County, meanwhile, struggled over how to return to normalcy. A week after the county's Board of Supervisors approved guidelines for businesses to reopen, officials were still struggling to explain to the public what they mean.

Last week, Supervisor Don Wagner, who serves on an ad hoc economic recovery committee with Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel, assured the public the guidelines do not supersede any of the state's stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Supervisor Doug Chaffee said his office sent an email to constituents explaining that the guidelines were only advisory. Several residents angrily recounted at Tuesday's board meeting how the quarantine conditions are strangling their businesses and called on the supervisors to ignore Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive orders, which some claimed are "illegal.''

RELATED: Gov. Newsom announces reopening of beaches in additional O.C. cities

Chaffee proposed issuing a news release from the county to clarify what the guidelines mean, but when Supervisor Andrew Do expressed some confusion as to what exactly Chaffee wanted to say in the release, he backed off and asked county staff to come up with a news release the board can
consider next week. 

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said her office has received hundreds of phone calls from residents inquiring whether the county is allowing businesses to reopen.

Wagner, while emphasizing that the county cannot overstep state authority, nevertheless on Monday advocated that the county not enforce Newsom's orders, such as the one halting restaurants from dine-in service.

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