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Laguna Beach has 22 coronavirus cases as part of 464 across Orange County, new figures show

Laguna Beach has closed city beaches and adjacent parks in an effort to prevent gatherings and spread of the coronavirus.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Laguna Beach has 22 of Orange County’s 464 known cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, county health officials reported Monday.

The county’s overall cases ticked up by 37 compared with Sunday, though the number of related deaths remained at four, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The 464 positives come from 5,522 tests.

Laguna Beach — with a population of about 23,300 — has 9.4 cases for every 10,000 residents, leading Orange County cities in that regard.

Before Monday, the county did not post coronavirus data for cities with populations of less than 25,000. That included Laguna Beach. But now it will post counts for those cities once they hit at least five cases.

“I urge everyone not to overreact to the numbers. We knew we would have COVID-19 cases in our city and know that the number of reported cases will rise for some period of time,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said in a letter to the community. “To me, these numbers reinforce that the aggressive actions that the City Council took a week ago to close the beaches, trailheads, pool and sport courts were appropriate and necessary.”

Laguna was one of the first area cities to close its beaches and adjacent parks in an effort to prevent gatherings and spread of the virus, City Manager John Pietig said. The closures have been in effect since March 23.

Huntington Beach has closed its beach parking lots and iconic pier. Newport Beach also has closed its beach lots and two ocean piers, plus its ocean-facing boardwalk on weekends. The beaches themselves remain open in Huntington and Newport.

Laguna’s coronavirus case count “further underscores the importance of social distancing and avoiding contact with others to the maximum extent possible,” Whalen said. “By practicing social distancing, avoiding contact with others as much as possible and washing hands frequently, the vast majority of us are going to be fine.”

County public health officials on Friday began releasing city-by-city coronavirus cases. As of Monday, Irvine had the highest total with 43.

Here are the latest counts for select cities, with their numbers per 10,000 residents:

  • Irvine: 43 (1.5 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Newport Beach: 41 (4.7 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Anaheim: 42 (1.2 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Huntington Beach: 33 (1.6 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Laguna Beach: 22 (9.4 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Santa Ana: 22 (0.7 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Costa Mesa: 11 (1 case per 10,000 residents)
  • Fountain Valley: 8 (1.4 cases per 10,000 residents)

Officials have cautioned against putting too much stock in city-level data.

“COVID-19 now has reached community transmission status, which means people may have contracted the illness elsewhere in the county. This may not necessarily be in the city where they live,” the county said in a statement last week. “These data should not be interpreted as an indication of activity in any specific location. Under a community transmission status, the true prevalence of this disease may not be known, as most cases are likely not diagnosed or reported.”

The county released some demographic data Monday about the two men and two women who have died. Three were 65 or older. The other was in the 45-to-64 age range.

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc.

Daily Pilot staff writer Lilly Nguyen contributed to this report.

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