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California

First coronavirus death confirmed in Orange County as overall case count swells to 152

Longboard Restaurant & Pub in Huntington Beach
Street-side seating that is usually crowded sits empty as a man walks past the Longboard Restaurant & Pub in downtown Huntington Beach on Wednesday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Health officials Tuesday confirmed Orange County’s first death due to COVID-19 as overall infections continued to climb.

The man was in his 70s and had underlying health conditions, according to the O.C. Health Care Agency. Officials confirmed he was a county resident but declined to identify where he had been hospitalized or his hometown.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the patient’s family and friends,” said County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick. “This serves as a very unfortunate reminder to the community about the importance of staying at home and social distancing when leaving the household for essential activities, or to work at an essential business, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Orange County’s overall COVID-19 case count has soared by 60% over the last two days and hit 152 on Tuesday — up from 125 Monday and 95 the day before that, according to the Health Care Agency.

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Most of the patients — 87 — are between the ages of 18 and 49. The number of men who have tested positive in the county, 89, continues to outpace the number of women, 63.

Countywide, 2,159 people have been tested so far.

As the number of cases continues to climb, county officials have taken additional steps aimed at curbing the virus’ spread. On Tuesday, county leaders announced they would close parking lots at trails, beaches and parks to prevent people from gathering there.

The county also has unveiled additional outreach tools recently — including phone hotlines and a text-alert system — to provide residents with updates regarding the ongoing pandemic.

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Amid the arrival of new resources, however, the county Health Care Agency has also announced a departure — its director, Richard Sanchez, who has been appointed interim chief executive of CalOptima.

CalOptima is a county-organized health system that serves those with disabilities or who are low income. Sanchez will join the agency in April. The county plans to appoint an interim director to replace him at the Health Care Agency.

“Richard Sanchez has been an exemplary director at HCA,” County Executive Officer Frank Kim said in a statement. “His leadership to his colleagues at HCA and in the entire county family will be greatly missed. It’s an incredible opportunity for Richard, and I greatly look forward to working with him in his new role at CalOptima.”


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