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Orange County confirms two new coronavirus deaths, as total number of cases reaches 321

A screen with info on how to "Protect Yourself From Respiratory Illnesses" above an empty baggage carousel.
A screen above an empty baggage claim carousel at John Wayne Airport displays a notice from the Orange County Health Care Agency letting travelers know how to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County health officials on Friday confirmed two additional coronavirus deaths, as the total number of cases in the country climbed to 321.

Officials did not release any details about the victims, but said their deaths underscore how important it is for residents to follow orders from health officers to stay home as much as possible and to practice social distancing when outdoors.

“Community members need to know that we expect more cases and, unfortunately, more deaths in the coming days and weeks,” said county Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick.

Orange County reported its first death due to COVID-19 on Tuesday. The man was a county resident in his 70s who had underlying health conditions.

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“I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of those who were lost,” said Michelle Steel, chairwoman of the county Board of Supervisors.

The latest figures continued a steady skyward trend in the county, which had 95 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection as of Sunday and 256 Thursday.

Friday also marked the first time the county shared city-level specifics regarding its cases — information some residents have been demanding for weeks.

The cities with the most cases are Irvine, 33; Newport Beach, 32; and Anaheim, 28.

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Health officials cautioned against drawing broad conclusions from that data. Just because a resident of one city tested positive doesn’t necessarily mean they contracted the disease there. A lack of confirmed cases in one city also doesn’t mean no one there is infected, and the case counts don’t mean one city is more or less safe than another, officials emphasized.

“There is risk countywide, and we need all individuals to listen to the recommendations of state and local health officials,” Quick said.

Health officials also have said case counts will likely continue to rise as testing ramps up. So far, 4,070 people have been tested in the county.

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In a bid to contain the virus’ spread, Orange County leaders have closed parking lots at trails, beaches and parks.

The list of local closures also includes Disneyland — the county’s most popular attraction.

The Anaheim theme park and resort has been closed since March 14 and will remain so until further notice, Walt Disney Co. announced Friday.

A company spokesperson said the decision was made “as a result of this unprecedented pandemic and in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials.”

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“While there is still much uncertainty with respect to the impacts of COVID-19, the safety and well-being of our guests and employees remain the Walt Disney Company’s top priority,” the spokesperson added.

The company has been paying its employees since closing the park earlier this month and will continue to pay hourly parks and resorts workers through April 18.


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