Orange County coronavirus cases surpass 2,100 after weekend surge
After a surge in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases over the weekend, Orange County’s total case count hit 2,126 Monday — up more than 500 from a week ago.
Orange County saw its biggest two-day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases so far over the weekend, reporting 123 — a daily record for the county — on Saturday and 105 on Sunday, county data show. Public health officials reported 54 new cases of the virus on Monday.
Despite the steady increase — 282 new coronavirus infection cases have been reported in the last three days alone — the county did not report any new fatalities on Monday, leaving the death toll at 39.
Officials also reported that 157 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized with 62 of them in intensive care. To date, 26,347 people countywide have been tested for coronavirus.
The county’s surge in cases comes as some residents continue to call for statewide stay-at-home orders to be relaxed, if not completely lifted. California has experienced only a fraction of the deaths of coronavirus hot spots such as New York and New Jersey, and experts attribute that in part to early orders that forced people to observe social distancing and stay home.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has reiterated that it is too early to lift those rules and urged people to continue to stay home to stem the spread of the virus. Despite that request, dozens gathered at the circle in Old Towne Orange on Monday amid a chorus of honking cars to protest what they say are unnecessary restrictions on public life.
The news comes after a memo saying California’s governor would go further, closing all state and local beaches and parks, a plan he appeared to abandon.
Few wore masks, and many carried American flags and signs urging officials to “save California’s small businesses” and “reopen California.”
“Let us live and take our chances,” one sign read.
“We’re out here protesting in a great way for our freedom,” Dennis Murphy of Santa Ana told reporters. “We want to have O.C. open up.”
Dr. Nichole Quick, the county’s health officer, told the Board of Supervisors last week that staff is working to strengthen six areas that Newsom said earlier this month would need to be in place before he would consider loosening the stay-at-home order.
The six criteria are the ability to closely monitor and track potential cases; prevent infection of high-risk people; prepare hospitals to handle surges; develop therapies to meet demand; ensure schools, businesses and childcare facilities can support social distancing; and develop guidelines for when to ask Californians to stay home again if necessary.
Quick noted that regardless of when state guidelines are relaxed, Orange County will have a local order maintaining certain restrictions, probably for many months.
While outdoor recreational areas and restaurants will at some point begin to reopen, recommendations about face coverings in public and physical distancing mandates will probably continue, she said.
“We’re going to alter our normal,” Quick said. “The last thing we want to do is open the floodgates and watch our case count start to go up again uncontrolled.”
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