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California

More than 900 coronavirus cases in Orange County as death toll climbs to 15

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A man wears a protective mask while biking on the mostly empty boardwalk in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Health officials on Tuesday reported Orange County’s 15th coronavirus-related death, as the overall number of infections in the region swelled to 931.

The Orange County Health Care Agency didn’t disclose additional information about the latest victim, but data indicate the person was between the ages of 45 and 64.

Overall, four people in that age range have died as a result of COVID-19. Eight others were at least 65 years old, two were between the ages of 25 and 34 and the other was 35 to 44 years old.

Countywide, 129 people are currently hospitalized with the illness, 75 of them in intensive care.

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Fifty new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Tuesday alone — continuing a weeklong trend in which the county’s caseload has grown by at least 49 each day.

Roughly 59% of confirmed infections are in people who are at least 45.

COVID-19 also continues to make its way through the county jail system. As of Tuesday, 10 inmates had tested positive, according to Sheriff Don Barnes.

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“We are isolating anybody that has flu-like symptoms in our jail,” he told the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Two Orange County sheriff’s deputies have also tested positive and are in isolation at home, he added.

In total, 159 inmates are being quarantined after being exposed to someone who tested positive, according to Barnes.

In our effort to cover this pandemic as thoroughly as possible, we’d like to hear from the loved ones of people who have died from the coronavirus.
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As its number of cases continues to grow, Orange County may ask some employees to wear face coverings when they go to work. Whether that guidance will be advisory or mandatory remains to be seen.

County Supervisor Andrew Do pushed to require workers who interact with the public — including those at pharmacies, grocery stores and restaurants and other businesses that serve food — to cover their faces while on the job.

He said such a requirement, which is now in place in San Diego County, would be a natural extension of recent health guidance that residents should do the same when they leave their homes.

“We are in a phase in the crisis where community transmission is the main mode of transmission now,” he said. “We are way beyond containment at this point … and this would definitely be a mitigating measure because of how important food service is in our life.”

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Some of his board colleagues, however, said those in the medical field — such as County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick — should make the call. Officials on Tuesday said some kind of order was in the works, but it wasn’t clear whether it would be a recommendation to don face coverings while at work or a requirement.

“Members of the board of supervisors do not have medical degrees, and we should defer to our healthcare professionals to best protect the public,” Supervisor Don Wagner said in a statement after the meeting. “Our role should be to empower Dr. Quick, in her professional capacity, to give the leading-edge medical recommendations to flatten the curve.”

Ahead of Friday’s property tax deadline, county Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Freidenrich announced that her office will be able to potentially cancel penalties for “homeowners, small businesses and other property owners that have had significant economic hardship due to COVID-19.”

Requests for penalty relief will be considered on a case-by-case basis, she told supervisors Tuesday.

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“This flexibility will allow us to give those taxpayers that met those conditions some extra time to be able to make those tax payments,” she said. “It’s not changing the deadline.”

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