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.”
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.
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.”
Luke Money writes for the Los Angeles Times.